Monday, January 27, 2014

First Annual Benefactors Banquet


Tonight, I am delighted to welcome you to the first annual Benefactors Banquet.  It’s a time for us to say thank you to those who make so much of the work in this holy house possible by their generous financial and spiritual support.

And the truth is that this work depends on your generous donations.  Less than half of the price of educating a seminarian comes from tuition, room and board.  This past year, through the institution of our first ever major development effort, this holy work has been supported by over $200,000 in donations and more than $400,000 in grants.  That unbelievable success is the result of the hard work of our Development Staff, our Development Committee and all the other members of our staff who make it all work.  They’re all here on a Sunday! Please join me in thanking them for all their hard work!

And the truth is that this work depends on your generous prayers.  Without prayer we are just a business, and an educational institution.  But as noble as education is, it is but one of the full pillars of our life here at Saint Johns, as we seek to form men to be the best pastors, the best spiritual leaders, and the best human beings: effective disciples of the Gospel of Joy so needed as we form the Roman Catholic Church in New England for the twenty first century.

So welcome!  I promise no long speeches, just this expression of gratitude, which now takes concrete form in a new tradition we inaugurate tonight in the presentation of two Medals to individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the support of this holy work: the Saint John the Evangelist Medal given in recognition of an individual's extraordinary contributions to the spiritual support of the Seminary and the Archbishop John J. Williams Medal given in recognition of a person’s extraordinary contributions to the temporal life of the Seminary.

This year we have two very worthy recipients.


Our first award recipient is Mr. Jack Shaughnessy, Sr.   As you know, we present this well deserved honor posthumously, and so I ask  Jack, Jr. to please come forward to receive this medal in Jack’s memory.  

I am grateful to you Jack, and to all the members of the Shaughnessy family present tonight. As you know, your father was an extraordinary man.  His love for the Church and his deep faith were readily apparent to everyone who met him.   Dedicated to his dear wife, Mary and his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, it was Jack’s faith which got him through the Job-like experiences in his life, and that same faith that made him so generous to this Seminary in the years that followed.

Jack was a close counselor of mine and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss him.  Last September when I informed him that he would be the first recipient of the Archbishop John J. Williams medal, he suggested that someone else would be more worthy of the award. But no one, indeed no one person, has ever loved this house more or been more generous.

And so I ask Jack Shaughnessy, Jr., to receive the first John J. Archbishop Williams medal in his father’s name in recognition of the extraordinary generosity by which he supported the work of this holy house.

Jack, please come forward and offer a few words in your father’s name. 

Remarks by Jack Shaughnessy, Jr. in accepting the posthumous awarding of the first annual Archbishop John J. Williams Award to Jack Shaughnessy, Sr.

Your Eminence Cardinal Sean, Monsignor Moroney, Bishop Libasci, Sister Jean, assembled clergy, seminarians, and fellow supporters of St John’s Seminary; it is with great honor and humility that I am here to accept the Archbishop John J. Williams Award on behalf of my Dad, Jack Shaughnessy Sr. I would also like to offer congratulations on behalf of the entire Shaughnessy family to fellow honoree Loretta Gallagher who will soon be accepting the Saint John the Evangelist Medal in recognition of her many contributions to the Seminary.

For those who did not know him my Dad loved to be known as a “cheerful giver”, but at the same time he was a “reluctant honoree”, and it was only when he believed that by accepting an honor that he could help increase support to a particular institution that he would agree to do so. He was also fond of quoting scripture (one time actually borrowing the Sunday Missilette to bring to that night’s Charity event) and one verse that he often used was from Matthew, the first half of which reads: “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret” which is how he tried to live his life. But it wasn’t just his financial contributions that set my Dad apart, it was his never ending donation of time to so many causes over the years that truly distinguished him as a Man for Others in the truest sense of his Jesuit ideals. Countless dinners, fundraisers, tributes and events filled his days and while we all cringed every time he took out his handy pocket calendar to let us know what “events” he had in the upcoming weeks and that he needed to fill a table we seldom said no as we somehow knew that it was what was expected of us.

Knowing that my Dad would have taken this opportunity to speak to the cause instead of speaking about himself, I tried to envision just what he would have talked about today had he been able to do so. I’m confident that he would have first thanked Cardinal Sean for his friendship and leadership as he has steadfastly guided our archdiocese through some difficult times, never wavering in his Faith. Next, he would have said that nothing that he did would have been possible without the love and support of his late wife Mary, who he missed so dearly. And he would have said how proud he was to be the recipient of the Archbishop Williams Award, named after the first Archbishop of Boston, the son of Irish Immigrants. He would have spoken to the seminarians, many of whom are here today, and thanked them for accepting their calling to the Priesthood and how very crucial that was to the future of the church. And more likely than not, he would have worked in today’s Gospel reading and made sure that we understood that just as Jesus had called to Peter and Andrew fishing by the Sea of Galilee and said “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men”, in a similar manner He has called out to the these Seminarians to serve in the same way.
The second half of his oft quoted passage from Matthew reads: “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”. And while none of his can ever be sure what awaits us on our Judgment Day, I feel like he knew in his final hours that his own eternal peace was at hand. The grace and serenity that he displayed in those last hours was something that none of my family will ever forget as his final words were in prayer to the Blessed Mother, knowing that he had done all he could not just for his family but for his fellow man in his long and satisfying life.

My Dad spent his entire adult life teaching each of us by his actions how to be better spouses, parents and for some of us grandparents and we will all be forever grateful. We have also learned to live faith filled lives, do what we are able to do to help others in need and will certainly endeavor to carry on the Shaughnessy name as he did so ably and graciously for so many years. 

I know he would be both proud and humbled to be singularly honored as the first recipient of this Award and on behalf of the entire Shaughnessy Family many of whom are here tonight including 6 of his 7 children, their spouses, many grandchildren and even his eighth great grandchild Matthew John I thank you for remembering him in this special way.  As he often said, we have been truly blessed.


Our second award recipient is Mrs. Loretta Gallagher.  Loretta, tonight, you will be the first recipient of the Seminary’s Saint John the Evangelist Medal, in recognition of your extraordinary contributions to the spiritual support of the Seminary.  

From the first day I arrived at Saint John’s, Loretta has been a constant source of encouragement, reassurance and prayerful support.  In a thousand ways, from organizing Carmelite prayer chains and notes and gifts in support of the seminarians, to actively engaging the members of the Serra Club, Loretta Gallagher has witnessed by her prayers and hard work to the importance of what God is doing in the hearts of these young men.

As a member of the Board of Trustees and a personal advisor to me and to my predecessors she has been insightful and unwaveringly generous in her advice and her unflagging support.  In tough times, Loretta Gallagher is God's most optimistic cheer leader.  In good times, she is a sage source of common sense advice.

And so I joyfully present this first Saint John the Evangelist Medal to Loretta Gallagher in recognition of her spiritual support of the work God does in this holy house.  Your wisdom and passion for the Seminary’s mission is a constant consolation and source of strength.

Thank you for what you do and for who you are for each of us!