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St. Paul’s College celebrates 100

Many of the St. Paul's College 100th Anniversary participants gather on the front steps of college for a group photo.
Many of the St. Paul's College 100th Anniversary participants gather on the front steps of college for a group photo.
by Stefani Manowski
May 20, 2013

One hundred years ago, the cornerstone was laid for a building that would be the foundation of a legacy of faith for many generations of Paulists. And so Paulist priests, students, alumni and friends gathered May 17-19 to celebrate a milestone in Paulist history: the 100th anniversary of St. Paul’s College in Washington, D.C.

“For most Paulists over the last 100 years, St. Paul's College was the place where they learned what it means to be a priest, to be a Paulist, to be a brother,” said Father Michael B. McGarry, CSP, president of the Paulist Fathers. Father McGarry was the main celebrant and homilist for the St. Paul’s College 100th Anniversary Mass May 19, Pentecost Sunday.

“There they absorbed Hecker's vision of a mission to North America and there their roots were nourished,” Father McGarry continued. “Finally, as an educational institution, St. Paul's College gathered generations of Paulist faculty who taught philosophy, theology, history, creative writing, missiology, public speaking, and the myriad skills required for a Mission to Main Street. What a rich blessing for us, what a blessing for the American Church!”

The anniversary weekend began on the evening of May 17 with a keynote presentation titled "The New Evangelization and the American Context: Reflections and Recommendations” by Father J. Bryah Hehir, the Parker Gilbert Montgomery Professor of the Practice of Religion and Public Life at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

“Evangelization has to be a mix of words and witness,” Father Hehir said. He went on to explain that the New Evangelization is three-dimensional: "to deepen the faith of those participating in the church, to invite back the 30 percent of the congregants that have left the church, and to share the faith with the culture at large.”

“The deepest reality of the Church is that we are a baptized community,” said Father Hehir.

The next day, participants were treated to a special presentation on the history of St. Paul’s College given by Father Paul G. Robichaud, CSP, Paulist historian.

“St. Paul’s College is where legacy of all of the Paulists seminarians of the past are instilled in the Paulist students of today as they prepare for their future ministry,” he said.

Paulists gather for the St. Paul's College 100th Anniversary Mass on May 19, Pentecost Sunday.
Paulists gather for the St. Paul's College 100th Anniversary Mass on May 19, Pentecost Sunday.

Then, Michael Hennessy spoke on the past year he has spent as a Paulist novice. He was followed by six Paulist students, each speaking about one of the six pillars of Paulist formation: Ryan Casey, CSP, human formation; Steve Petroff, CSP, spiritual formation; James Olague, CSP, intellectual formation; Stuart Wilson-Smith, CSP, pastoral formation; Jimmy Hsu, CSP, liturgical formation; and Matthew Berrios, CSP, communal formation.

After lunch, the group went on a stational pilgrimage around the campus, beginning in the college dining room, where bread is broken and stories are shared. The group sang “Ubi Caritas” as they processed from station to station, next to the college library, the place of study and research. Then it was on to the main chapel, the place of prayer and worship; then to the student space, place of living and relaxation; on to the Hecker Foyer, place of ministry; and the common room, site of many conversations, gatherings and celebrations. Each stop included the sharing of memories in that space, prayer and ritual. The pilgrimage ended with a prayer and blessing in front of the statue of St. Paul the Apostle that sits outside of the main college entrance.

The evening featured the celebration of Paulist Jubilarians: Father Michael Kallock, CSP, pastor of Old St. Mary’s in Chicago, celebrating 40 years of Paulist priesthood, and Father Bill Dockerty, senior ministry in Tucson, Ariz., celebrating 50 years as a Paulist. The anniversary celebrations concluded with the official 100th anniversary Mass and brunch.

Alumnus Jerry Travers studied at St. Paul’s from 1960-66, and credits St. Paul’s with providing him with the education that led him to later earn a doctoral degree in chemical psychology.

“I dread to think what would have happened if I hadn’t been blessed by all that went into my Paulist education,” Mr. Travers said.

Although St. Paul’s ceased to be a degree-issuing institution in 1971, the college remains the house of formation for the Paulists, whose students study at The Catholic University of America.

And as St. Paul’s looks to welcome the next class of Paulist novices toward the end of the summer, they will no doubt only add to the legacy of St. Paul’s College, the Paulist community and the Church.


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