Summer seems an unnatural time for a religious community on a college campus. The busy schedule of preparing for classes, endless meetings with students and faculty, attending academic lectures, concerts and plays is over and the place just seems empty. It is so quiet with no students hustling to class, playing Frisbee on the lawn and blaring music on the quads. It’s a time when even the local Holy Cross community is at low tide, with members slipping away for some time at the Cape with family and friends and others are off to exotic places doing research on their latest academic project.
This summer at Stonehill College was a little bit different because we were blessed to have had four seminarians with us. We had Tim Mouton, CSC, a professed seminarian who will be entering his final year of theology at Notre Dame and three novitiate-bound postulants: Dan Cruickshank, Joe DeAgostino and John Whittaker. They were assigned here for the summer to get a taste of what community life was like in an active apostolic house and to receive new experiences of ministry. Tim, Dan and John worked at My Brother’s Keeper, a ministry that serves the poor, which is located on Holy Cross property adjacent to the campus. Joe worked at the House of Possibilities, which serves developmentally disabled young adults. It too is located adjacent to the Stonehill Campus.
These young men became an integral part of our common life, joining us in common prayer, the Eucharist and common table each day, as well as joining in on the day-to-day chores which make common life possible. They took their turns leading prayer, serving at Mass, and acting as cantor at our liturgies.
While here, we tried to give them a little taste of all the varied ministries that Holy Cross is responsible for in the area around Stonehill College. They saw Holy Cross men in action at Holy Cross Parish and St. Mary’s Parish, two parishes we serve in the Diocese of Fall River. They enjoyed a fine New England seafood feast with our retired men assigned to our beautiful house in nearby North Dartmouth, which at one time served as our novitiate.
They visited the world headquarters of Holy Cross Family Ministries, founded by Servant of God Fr. Patrick Peyton, CSC, and learned of the wonderful work of this ministry in promoting family prayer and the rosary all around the globe.
They toured the campus of Stonehill College, meeting our lay colleagues and hearing about how we strive to form our students in the Holy Cross tradition, educating both their hearts and minds. And most of all they spent time with their Holy Cross confreres, taking in tales of their lives of ministry, comparing formation styles and just enjoying one another’s company.
In the evenings, it was wonderful enjoying nice games of bocce after dinner, or watching them running through the campus playing disc golf or baseball with their lay colleagues from My Brother’s Keeper. We had movie nights several times a week, where the finally professed introduced them to comedy of Mel Brooks and they introduced us older folks to the comedy of “Despicable Me” and “Madagascar 3”. And the high points of our summer leisure time were the casino nights put on by Fr. Steve Wilbricht, CSC, where it was always fun to break the bank and beat poor Fr. Steve!
Now, all of the seminarians have left us to return to Notre Dame and the campus is once again quiet. I believe that Tim, Dan, John and Joe learned a lot about the apostolic life of a Holy Cross religious and how important prayer, ministry and community are to this life. And I believe that the finally professed of this local community received a breath of fresh air in our own religious life through the boundless enthusiasm and apostolic zeal of these young men which renewed our own hope in the future which they bring to Holy Cross.
Fr. Tony Szakaly, C.S.C. is the local superior of the Holy Cross community at Stonehill College, and previously served as an assistant provincial for the United States Province of Priests and Brothers. A South Bend native, he received a Holy Cross education at every level of his schooling, from the C.S.C. sisters in grade school, the C.S.C. brothers in high school and C.S.C. priests at the University of Notre Dame. He took final vows in 1991 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1992.