Jubilee 2024

The Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province of Priests and Brothers celebrates the Jubilee of 18 men who were called to make God known, loved, and served by bringing the hope of the Gospel to the World. A Mass celebration is on Friday, May 24, at 4:00 p.m. EDT, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the University of Notre Dame campus. The Most Reverend Daniel Jenky, C.S.C., is the presiding bishop, and Rev. Peter Rocca, C.S.C., is the principal homilist.

Congratulations to Rev. George Bernard, C.S.C., celebrating 75 years of ordination; Rev. Robert Austgen, C.S.C., Rev. Nicholas Ayo, C.S.C., Rev. John Keefe, C.S.C., and Rev. Joseph Long, C.S.C., commemorating 65 years of ordination; Rev. James Thornton, C.S.C., applauding 60 years; Br. Joaquín Parada, C.S.C., celebrating 50 years of first vows; Rev. Patrick Gaffney, C.S.C., Rev. Thomas Gariepy, C.S.C., Most Rev. Daniel Jenky, C.S.C., Rev. John Korcsmar, C.S.C., Rev. Thomas Lemos, C.S.C., Rev. Robert Moss, C.S.C., Rev. John Phalen, C.S.C., and Rev. Peter Rocca, C.S.C., lauding 50 years of ordination; and Rev. Michael Mathews, C.S.C., Rev. Pedro Parra, C.S.C., and Rev. Joseph Tomei, C.S.C., hailing 25 years of ordination.

“I was a student at Notre Dame and most of my teachers were Holy Cross religious. In high school, I had thought about being a priest (diocesan), but it faded during those first years at Notre Dame. In my junior year (1941-42), the U.S. Navy took over the university. I thought of joining the Navy Air Force until a friend of mine left at mid-year to go to the seminary. That got me thinking of the priesthood again. I went to see one of the priests I knew, and he suggested that maybe it was God’s will that I come to Notre Dame to meet Holy Cross and join the community,” recalled Rev. George Bernard, C.S.C. “What actually sealed my decision was my being in class with about 20 Moreau seminarians. They seemed like a great bunch of guys that I could live with. At the end of my junior year (August 1942), I went to the novitiate at Rolling Prairie, Indiana. A year later, I made my first vows and I have been in the community ever since.”

Fr. Bernard attended Catholic University after ordination getting a doctorate in Sacred Theology.

“My first assignment was to teach at Notre Dame. While doing that, I was also rector of Breen-Philips for four years, and the first rector of Stanford. Then I was appointed Vice President for Student Affairs. After three years as VP, the provincial sent me to Washington, D.C., as superior of Holy Cross College, the community theology program. Seven years later, the provincial administration decided to move the theology program to Moreau Seminary. Moving people, a library, vestments, and a myriad of other things was a chore, but it was accomplished. I was given a sabbatical, but I spent half the year teaching moral theology to Benedictine seminarians at St. Bede’s monastery in Peru, Illinois. I was invited by the abbot to join their community, but I said that I was Holy Cross and that it was time for me to go home. My next assignment was at the University of Portland. With a promise of no administration, I spent seven years as head of the theology department and ten years as Academic Vice President. After resigning as VP, I spent a few more years teaching and then retired, said Fr. Bernard.

Rev. Nicholas Ayo, C.S.C., entered religious life because of the friendships with the residents of Old College and with the Holy Cross priests he knew. A memorable moment from his religious life journey is traveling down Notre Dame Avenue at the age of 17, in a taxi, from the train station in South Bend, Indiana. With the Golden Dome one of the first things in his sight, he remembers thinking “What have you got yourself into?” He never looked back, or returned to live in his home in New Jersey, and has enjoyed his time with the Congregation.

“My first teaching assignment was at the University of Portland where I taught American Literature. Oregon is a beautiful land, God’s country, and the University is a good school for an inexperienced teacher to learn how to be a helpful faculty member,” said Fr. Ayo about his vocation. “I was then asked to be a Novice Director in Bennington, Vermont, and later on in Cascade Colorado. These were the best years of my life because they asked the most of me. Subsequently, I taught for many years in the Great Books Program at Notre Dame. It was an education for teachers as well as students, and I was able to teach theology through the issues raised in literature and in the Great Books.”

Rev. John Phalen, C.S.C. was drawn to religious life by the good example of his two Jesuit uncles who were joyful, holy priests who enjoyed life. The military charism of the Jesuits didn’t appeal to him as much as the family charism of Holy Cross, leading him to join the Congregation of Holy Cross order.

“A very memorable moment was when I met a couple on the streets of New York City. I had helped them prepare for their marriage and then witnessed it in Great Meadow Maximum Security Prison in upstate New York years before. Seeing him free at last and his wife happy and expecting a child did my heart good and brought tears to my eyes. We had a great reunion,” shared Fr. Phalen.

During his time with the Congregation, he spent 10 years at St. Stephen Parish in South Bend, Indiana, pastoring Mexican Americans and Hungarians; 5 years as Assistant Novice Director at the Novitiate in Waterford, New York; 7 years as pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn; 2 years in vocation work; 18 years as President of Holy Cross Family Ministries; 6 years as Novice Director in Peru; and the last 4 years Parochial Vicar of The Lord of Hope Parish in Lima, Peru. “It continues to be a wonderful mission and I am so grateful to God, to my family, to Holy Cross, and to all whom I have had the privilege of accompanying in ministry.”

Rev. Michael Mathews, C.S.C., grew up in Tustin, California. The second of three children, he attended Catholic school and his first contact with the Congregation of Holy Cross was through Rev. Thomas Seidel, C.S.C. who encouraged him to consider religious life.

“Making my final profession in August of 1998, I was also ordained a deacon and assigned to St. Joseph Parish in South Bend, Indiana. It was a joy to work with the youth group and sacramental preparation program and students at St. Joseph Grade School. Ordained a priest on April 10, 1999, I spent two more years at St. Joseph as the associate pastor before being assigned to Holy Cross and St. Stanislaus on the west side of South Bend in July of 2001. For the next twelve years, I served as pastor of two great churches that became one awesome parish. In both of my first two assignments, I was blessed with a richly diverse parish and school environment, one that taught me how to preach and celebrate the sacraments, collaborate with others, and work to make God known, loved, and served,” shared Fr. Mathews. “After a six-month sabbatical from July 2013-December 2013, I was assigned to the District of East Africa, arriving at Andre House of Formation in Jinja, Uganda, in late December 2013. Working with postulants and teaching at Queen of Apostles Seminary was another blessing. I loved the culture, people, and warm weather, experiencing the international face of Holy Cross in Africa for nearly eight years.”

Fr. Mathews is back in the United States and serves as the Director of Postulants, working with young men who are discerning a vocation to Holy Cross. “Since coming to the community in 1990, I can honestly say that I have grown up in Holy Cross. The community has helped me grow in holiness, serve a variety of people from America to East Africa, and experience the tender love and mercy of God. I am blessed to celebrate my silver jubilee as a priest and look forward to many more years of ministry to God’s people as a Holy Cross religious.”

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