Sunday, January 23, 2011

Blessings of the Past

   I'm not one to spend a lot of time dwelling on the past, but during the past month I have been provided with several opportunities to do so. That can be dangerous since it often leads to unrealistic thinking about "good old days" that never really existed because there is good and bad in every age.  In this case my backward look has lead me to a sense of gratitude for the people and places that have shaped my life.
  Earlier this month I gathered with the friars of my province who were ordained 40 years ago. Although I went through my formation in another province I have been fully adopted into the Holy Name Province class of '71. Eight of us gathered at our friary in Margate, NJ (4 could not make it), and reminisced about seminary days, recalling a lot of funny and crazy stories, but also thinking of the influence of the 60's and the Second Vatican Council on us. We were so hopeful (in some ways naively so), but happy to be a bunch who have served the Lord in a way that has been shaped by that council even as many today would want to undo it or reinterpret it. We all felt a certain sadness over that and the sex abuse crisis and other things that we just could not foresee in 1971. We celebrated the Eucharist together and in fine Franciscan fashion went out to dinner on the Saturday night.
  Just the other day I had another call from the past. In late grammar school and throughout my high school years I was a member of the CYO band in my parish, Saint William's, in the Savin Hill section of Dorchester, MA where I grew up. I found out via the internet that a reunion of band members is being planned and that there is a Facebook page for the band.  I was delighted by the pictures and the flood of great memories that this brought about and I put myself down as a member.  We were the champions for many years of the CYO music circuit, and we paraded with dignitarie played at big events,  but more importantly the band, the parish and many wonderful people from there helped to shape my life in a wonderful way. The parish is now merged with another parish (St. Margaret's) and renamed (Blessed Mother Theresa), but there will always be some St. William's in my heart.
  Finally this morning at Mass with the Gospel that recalled the call by Jesus to Peter, Andrew, James and John, Fr. Marty Bednar in his homily shared his own sense of a vocation that came to him as a high school student and it brought back memories of my own discerning of a call to join the Franciscans.  I thought of St. William's parish again as well as the friars at Christopher Columbus High school, both of which nourished my vocation.
  My last blog entry spoke of looking to the future, this one to the past, but right now is all that any of us have, and right now I'm grateful for the blessings of the past that have shaped me and looking forward to the years of life that I have left as a friar and a priest.


  1. Fr. John=glad to hear that St. Williams band was mentioned in your recent blog. I too was in the CYO but in St. Joseph's in Medford. /We also won many Championships with Fr. Ryan as Director.
    PS there was also Holy Name Band also of W. Roxbury. Bob D

  2. Fr.John,Congratulations to you and the rest of the class of '71. The article about the reunion brings back good memories of these men who were a few years ahead of me in Callicoon.I am proud of their service as friars to the church. I am sure St.Francis is also. If any class could weather the storm of Vactican 2 it would be this bunch. Please give my best to all and may they be blessed as they carry out their ministeries. Pax et Bonum!!! Vince mesaric