Our 3rd Annual Benefactors' Banquet took place on Sunday, January 31, while I was in Rome for a Vox Clara meeting. Luckily our Vice Rector, Fr. Chris O'Connor, was ready and willing to host the Cardinal and all of our benefactors and guests in my absence.
We are so grateful to all of our benefactors, and this event for our Leadership Circle and guests of the honorees is our way to say thanks to this pace-setting group of philanthropists on the last Sunday evening in January each year.
Cardinal O'Malley, who was the principal celebrant at Mass, joined Fr. Chris in the awarding of our two medals: The Archbishop John J. Williams Medal, named after our founding father, was awarded to Dr. Philip Crotty for his tireless efforts on behalf of and contributions to the temporal life of Saint John’s Seminary.
The Saint John the Evangelist Medal, named for our patron saint, was awarded to Craig & Nancy Gibson for their constant willingness to go above and beyond for the good of the Church, and for their faithful contributions to the spiritual life of Saint John’s Seminary.
We had about 175pp in total in attendance, a full house, just as hoped. The end of the evening was punctuated by a piano performance by Dr. Crotty’s godson, Miles Shealy of VA.
Thank you to all who made such a wonderful evening possible! Below you can read the award presentations to Dr. Crotty and the Gibsons, the remarks each honoree made, and even watch the video I sent back from Rome to be played before dinner. Please enjoy!
Father Chris O'Connor's Welcome Remarks
It is a real joy to welcome you, Cardinal Seán, as we gather to honor the benefactors of Saint John's Seminary. These generous men and women have made possible the wonderful work which God accomplishes in this house among these men whom he has called to shepherd after the heart of Jesus, his Son. Your presence, as always, reminds us of that mission and strengthens us in our resolve.
In the past three years, under your watchful eye and with the help of everyone here tonight, we have definitively changed the face of fundraising at SJS. These members of our Leadership Circle are truly the pace-setters for all Friends of Saint John's Seminary!
Between events like our golf tournament, our regular appeal letters at Lent, Ordination time, and Advent, and special appeals like our seminarians' trip to DC to see the Pope in September, our fundraising program has seen record-breaking successes in the last year.
We owe so much to you all, our Leadership Circle, and we all look forward to continuing this relationship for years to come.
So, on behalf of Monsignor Moroney, who has been called to a Vox Clara Meeting in Rome, all the faculty and seminarians, welcome!
Dr. Philip Crotty is receiving the Archbishop John J. Williams Medal.
Following in the great footsteps of the late Jack Shaughnessy, Sr., and the Honorable Bill Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth, Dr. Philip Crotty is the third recipient of the Archbishop Williams medal, for his enormous contributions to the temporal life of Saint John's Seminary.
For, if Latin is the language of the Church, Dr. Crotty has been the Seminary's faithful translator for almost a full decade. His love and deep knowledge of the Church, of Rome and of Boston is born of a deep spirituality and love of life.
And he has served generations of seminarians purely out of that love, for he has never taken a salary, never uttered a complaint, and, indeed, donated generously multiple times on top of that.
As much a part of Saint John's Seminary as the other saints who adorn the walls of this Chapel, I am privileged to congratulate our dear friend and brother, Dr. Philip Crotty.
Dr. Crotty's Remarks
Your Eminence and Fr. Chris O'Connor:
Thank you so much for your kind remarks, and of course for this wonderful honor which I didn't at all expect but which certainly delights me.
It seems most appropriate that this medal be named for Archbishop John Joseph Williams, the 4th Bishop and first Archbishop of Boston. He seems often to be overlooked as mention is frequent of Cardinals O'Connell, Cushing, Medeiros , and Law. Yet Archbishop Williams was the Ordinary here for 41 years from 1866 to 1907.
Born of Irish immigrant parents he was baptized in the old Holy Cross Cathedral on Franklin Street where he in the course of time became the Rector. He had a superb education in Montreal and Paris and ironically, given his background he became known as a cultivated Yankee. He was ordained in Paris in 1845 by the Archbishop of Paris who himself was murdered later that year by French revolutionaries.
The present Cathedral of the Holy Cross was finished under Archbishop Williams and this Seminary was established under him in 1884 so it is particularly appropriate for this award be given for contributions to this Seminary.
Once again let me express my gratitude for this recognition and award. It has been such a joy to serve here and to be with you all. Thank you very much.
Craig and Nancy Gibson are receiving Saint John the Evangelist Medals.
If you look up generosity in the dictionary, you will find a picture of Craig and Nancy Gibson. Their every waking moment, it seems, is spent in serving others. Perhaps they got it from their parents, perhaps they learned it along the way. But they have learned well that it is better to give than to receive and the last and the least will be the first in the Kingdom of God.
Through Craig's work as Trustee and Development Committee Chair, we have seen the extraordinary success of the first ever Development Committee – and program – at Saint John's Seminary. Through the wise council, unwavering support and generous contributions of Craig and Nancy, Saint John's is on the verge of an era of unprecedented growth and stability.
I am, therefore, honored to congratulate the recipients of the third annual Saint John the Evangelist medals, Craig and Nancy Gibson.
Craig Gibson's Remarks
Your Eminence Cardinal O'Malley, Monsignor Moroney, Fr. Chris O'Connor, Bishop Edyvean, Mother Maureen, Sr. Rosemary, Sr. Rogers, fellow Trustees, assembled clergy, distinguished faculty and staff, seminarians, family and friends;
It is such an honor for Nancy and me to be here together with all of you, especially with all of the seminarians, in this special, sacred and holy place, and, it is with deep humility that we are here to accept the Saint John the Evangelist Award.
On behalf of the Gibson family and the circle of friends here tonight; we offer our most heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Philip Crotty, for your extraordinary contributions to the life of Saint John's Seminary.
We are also blessed to have past award recipients with us including Loretta Gallagher, Jim & Pattie Brett, and the ever present spirit of Jack Shaughnessy.
Saint John's Seminary is in great shape. Currently we have 126 seminarians in total, coming to us from across the globe from 15 different dioceses, five institutes of religious life, and one ecclesial movement. Saint John's Seminary is one of the largest Roman Catholic seminaries in the United States.
Over the past ten years, the seminary has increased enrollment by more than 200%, and has ordained nearly 40 men to the priesthood. This past fall, enrollment increased again, and Saint John's Seminary welcomed the largest class in recent seminary history!
Msgr. Moroney, with his tireless efforts to expand both the reach and the name of Saint John's Seminary, has contributed significantly, to this surge in enrollment, with Cardinal Sean's full dedication and very active involvement.
Msgr. Moroney has also expanded the scope of institutional advancement at Saint John's with a strong hands-on approach to widening the circle of faith-filled and generous friends, like so many of you here with us today. We are truly blessed by your remarkable generosity in support of the mission, a mission of preparing Roman Catholic seminarians for ordination to the priesthood through programs of human, pastoral, spiritual, and academic formation.
Msgr. Moroney's blog, about day to day happenings at Saint John's, is read by Catholics worldwide. It has put a friendly face on a previously little-known institution, and the blog has granted accessibility to many members of the extended Saint John's family as well as so many others, who are able to stop in for a quick "behind the scenes" look into seminary life.
We all miss Msgr. Moroney dearly this evening. He was unexpectedly pulled away to Rome for a meeting of the Vox Clara Committee which is a group of senior Bishops from English speaking countries who provide advice to the Holy See concerning English-language liturgical books and to strengthen effective cooperation among Bishops.
Among his greatest accomplishments, Msgr. Moroney deserves uncommon credit for building a much stronger sense of family here at the Seminary. He has worked overtime at building closer bonds among seminarians, faculty, staff, and the students in The Institute for the New Evangelization. The fruit of his efforts is a much deeper sense of connectedness among the extended members of the growing seminary family.
Cardinal O'Malley, what a blessing for the seminary family to have Msgr. Moroney serving as Rector!
As Nancy and I have grown in the spirit over these past many years, we have learned many wonderful lessons. More than ever before, we know that we are called to be the light and salt of God's kingdom, out in the world. We pray that, as hearers and doers of the Word, he might use us to radiate the beauty and grace of his mercy and goodness to all those around us.
On so many occasions, we have made a deeper commitment to serve others. In doing so, we have been blessed with an abundance of God's grace in all things. At Saint Mary's, our pastor invited us to get involved in the life of the parish back in 1990, and our ministry work continues today, bearing much fruit. In 2002, the Little Sisters of the Poor in Somerville, MA, with promptings through the Holy Spirit, extended an invitation to become involved in hands on service to the elderly poor, and our ministry work on behalf of the elderly residents continues today with great joy.
In the summer of 2003, Damien DeVasto extended an invitation to attend the installation Mass for Cardinal O'Malley. The Mass was extraordinary; Cardinal Sean touched our hearts in a special way. On the ride home, after recalling enjoyable parts of his homily, we felt the hand of God reach down, and prompt us, to get behind the "new guy" and to offer to help him in any needed, as he began his ministry as the new shepherd for the Church in Boston.
Another hand of God moment while reading a small ad in our parish bulletin in the fall of 2003. The ad provided encouragement to consider taking classes at Saint John's Seminary. After much discussion, classes started and our family has grown deeply in the spirit as a result.
God inspired family and friends to encourage us take a closer look at membership in the Order of Malta. The Order of Malta is a lay religious order and members are called into direct service for the sick and the poor; in addition the Order calls members to practice, witness, and defend the faith in their daily lives. We jumped in with both feet and have grown in our spiritual life and in our life in ministry.
Kevin Bannan, a long-time friend introduced us to Bishop Arthur Kennedy. This introduction opened up a path of friendship between us and Bishop Kennedy. As the friendship grew, Bishop Kennedy invited us to get more involved in the life of the seminary, and in time, an invitation to get involved in governance at the seminary.
With stirrings from the Holy Spirit, and encouragement from Steve Gust at Regina Cleri, we were recently drawn to get more involved in serving our retired priests in Boston. We are now involved in serving lunch to our retired priests and regularly host them for lunch outside of Regina Cleri.
After the arrival of Msgr. Moroney in July 2012 as the new Rector at Saint John's, we once again felt the hand of God touch our hearts with a call to again, "help the new guy." Msgr. Moroney has become a great friend and working together with him, in so many ways has brought forth much fruit for advancing the mission of Saint John's Seminary.
We have learned that when we commit ourselves to serving our heavenly Father, in a variety of ways, we grow in faith, joy, and love.
Like these outstanding seminarians, faith and love for God build commitment in living out our faith each and every day, so that the light of the Gospel might shine fully through the witness of our lives.
God's love and mercy enable us to commit ourselves to living as disciples of Jesus, and we ask God each day in our prayers, to grant us the grace and strength we need to live out this call, always in loving service for others, especially the sick, the poor, and the elderly.
In closing, with inspiration from Psalm 118, and mindful, as Cardinal O'Malley mentioned earlier, of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy let us all here today "GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD WHO IS GOOD, WHOSE STEADFAST LOVE AND BOUNDLESS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER!
God bless you and thank you!
My virtual greeting from Rome before dinner: