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Seminary reunion brings together generations

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BRIGHTON —In her renowned novel, “Middlemarch,”George Elliot wrote, “Many [St.] Theresa’s have been born who found for themselves no epic life wherein there was a constant unfolding of far-resonant action.”


In an altogether appropriate fashion, Elliot’s words were vivified by the Nov. 4 reception at St. John’s Seminary where more than 150 priests, bishops and seminarians gathered for the seminary’s first annual reunion celebration.

“There are a lot of good men out there that nobody knows about,”said the soon-to-be-ordained seminarian Darin Colarusso, echoing the words of the famed author’s literary masterpiece. “You can see that,”he added, as he examined the crowd.

Colarusso called the event “an opportunity to get together to share a good time”and “a way of building fraternity within the priesthood that should [already] be.”

The well-attended reunion began with a holy hour of adoration followed by a dinner reception full of reminiscence and camaraderie.

“I’m seeing priests I haven’t seen in 40 years!”said Father Brian Flatley, pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Arlington, after turning around during the dinner reception to recognize a face he hadn’t seen since they were taught together at the seminary.

With a nostalgic tone in his voice, Father Flatley added, “Every inch of this building has so many memories. Every inch of this place is so much a part of my life —it’s a great feeling being back!”

Many of the seasoned priests who attended St. John’s Seminary took delight in sharing memories with old friends, while the less experienced priests and seminarians were able to establish bonds of mentorship with their spiritual elders, who eagerly offered them wisdom and personal reflections.

“It’s a way for seminarians to see their future,”said Father Chris O’Connor, a professor at St. John’s Seminary, who also noted that there were many generations present as there were priests from the classes of 1943 to 2006.

At the first reunion celebration ever held by St. John’s Seminary, some seven states were represented by the attendees, and several traveled long distances to attend the one-night event.

Father Kevin Bordelon, who was ordained a priest this past June, made the trip from Lafayette, La. to be reunited with his seminarian classmates—and to celebrate Mass at St. Theresa of Avila Parish in West Roxbury, where he was ordained to the diaconate.

“It’s good to come back, just to see so many faces, with such a wide range of years,”said Father Bordelon.

Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley attended the celebration and gave a brief speech. In his remarks, the archbishop stressed the need “for priests to minister to other priests…to be together, and to pray together.”Afterwards, he said he was “delighted that so many alumni came to connect.”

Though Father John A. Farren, rector at St. John’s Seminary, called the reunion a “wonderful moment for the seminary,”he noted the problem of the lack of vocations in recent years.

Father Farren said the steady decline in the number of men entering the seminary is, “in my judgment, the number one problem in Boston.”

“I wish young people could see the beauty and nobility of that kind of [priestly] service,”he lamented.

Father Farren advised those considering the priesthood to “know that Jesus Christ is the best friend you’re ever going to have.”

“Following that call is the most thrilling thing one can do,”Father Farren added.

Father Bordelon offered a personal message to those struggling with a religious vocation. He said he wished to “echo what [Pope] John Paul said, about people not being afraid to ask God what to do with their lives —if He is calling you, it will bring you happiness.”

As the festivities came to a close, Father J. Michael Lawlor, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Needham, said, “Oftentimes, as priests, we didn’t have the opportunity to meet other priests and gather to be able to celebrate wholeheartedly the wonderful seminary that we have.”

With a smile, he added, “We’re always thinking ahead. The priests enjoyed themselves and many are looking forward to next year already.”

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