Rev. Richard J. Segreve, C.S.C.

May 5, 1934-Apr. 22, 2017

EASTON, Mass. – Rev. Richard J. Segreve, C.S.C., 82, died at the Holy Cross Residence at Stonehill College in North Easton, Mass., on Saturday, April 22, 2017.

He was born on May 5, 1934 in Boston, Mass., to Harold and Mildred (Minnihan) Segreve. By chance, he attended a Holy Cross parish retreat and saw four Holy Cross Fathers dressed in a black cassock, cape, cord and crucifix. An inquiry was made, and before long, he went to Holy Cross Seminary at Stonehill College in 1952. Fr. Segreve was received into the Congregation of Holy Cross on August 15, 1954, professed his First Vows on August 16, 1955, and made his final profession on August 16, 1958. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 1, 1961.

In 1961, most of his class was assigned to Notre Dame Boy’s High School in Bridgeport, CT. During his nine years there, he taught Biology, Religion and French; became a guidance counselor; then became director of guidance; and, for a while, principal of the school. From 1970 to 1973, he served as Assistant Provincial in the Eastern Province of Priests and Brothers. In 1973, he became director of counseling at Stonehill College, North Easton, MA, as well as director of campus ministry there. In 1990, he entered parish work at Holy Cross Parish, South Easton, MA, and in 1991, he continued to assist in parishes, serve in family ministry, and reside in the Holy Cross Residence at Stonehill College.

Preceding him in death are his parents, Harold and Mildred Segreve; two sisters, Patricia Kelly and Carol Segreve; and two brothers, Harold Segreve and Ralph Segreve.

He is survived by sisters, Ellen Davis, Canton, MA; Beverley Faulkner, Rosindale, MA; Barbara Woodford, Stoughton, MA; and brother, Paul Segreve, Bridgewater, MA.

Visitation will be from6:30 to 8:30 p.m.Thursday(Apr. 27, 2017) at the Chapel of Mary, Stonehill College, Easton, MA with a Wake Service at7:30 p.m.The Funeral Mass will be at10:00 a.m.Friday(Apr. 28, 2017) at the Chapel of Mary, Stonehill College, Easton, MA. Burial will follow at the Holy Cross Community Cemetery at Stonehill College.Kane Funeral Home of Easton, MA, is in charge of the arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made in support of the mission and ministries of the Congregation of Holy Cross via: United States Province of Priests and Brothers, Office of Development, 500 Washington Street, North Easton, MA 02356-1299 or online

Wake Eulogy byRev. Richard Gribble, C.S.C.
Apr. 27, 2017

Mother of Mary Chapel
Stonehill College
North Easton, MA

Readings: II Timothy 4:1-8; Luke 17:7-10

“The only thing I wanted to be as a priest was a pastor.”

In many ways this simple statement summarizes the priestly life of the one we remember this evening, Father Richard Joseph Francis (his Confirmation name) Segreve, a name by the way, that he was very proud to be given. As he often reminded me about our common patron, “We have as our saint. Richard of Chitister.” Since I was not unaware of this “saint” he informed me, “The galleon which carried all evidence for his canonization to Rome sank; that’s why he is not on the calendar.”

Father Dick as we all knew him, the second son of Harold and Millie Segreve, entered the world on May 5, 1934. He often told me that the winter of 1934 was the coldest on record in Boston and since his gestation period was experienced in cold, he was always attracted to cooler weather; he hated the heat and humidity. In the Segreve family there were nine children, four boys and five girls. We are privileged this evening to have three of his sisters, Beverly, Barbara, and Ellen and his youngest brother Paul with us. To all of you and your collective family, the sincere condolences of the Congregation of Holy Cross, to which your brother dedicated his life as priest and servant.

While Father Dick always wanted to be a pastor, but never served in such a role, his whole life as a priest was marked by being pastoral, reaching out to people, enlightening them, and being energized by their presence in his life. This desire to serve was manifest from his earliest days. Dick grew up in Roslindale, attending the local Catholic elementary school and graduating from St. Mary’s High School in Brookline. Attending a parish retreat conducted by Holy Cross religious, he was impressed with their habit, made an inquiry, and before long found himself at Holy Cross Seminary, here on the campus of Stonehill College. He was eventually ordained to the priesthood on June 1, 1961.

Some of his high school companions, noting his handsome appearance, especially a female friend named Claire, who by the way remained in contact with him the rest of his life, complemented him by referring to him as “Father What-a-Waste.” But Dick Segreve’s decision to become a religious and priest, and the public ministry that flowed from his vocation were anything but a waste. As with many young priests in the former Eastern Province, Father Dick “cut his ministerial teeth” at Notre Dame High School for Boys in Bridgeport, Connecticut. As the author of Second Timothy suggests, from the outset, Dick proclaimed the message persistently. At this time in his life it was the message of educating boys in biology (something he knew nothing about but was told by superiors, “Just read the book and stay ahead of the kids.”), and French (he was always tossing out a French phrase or two to me, to which I always replied, “de rien,” you’re welcome, what little I could remember from high school French.) And, by the way, he also taught religion. For a short time the message was proclaimed as counselor; later still the mission and message was administrative when he served as the principal. Like all in the house he went out on weekends to serve God’s people in local parishes. Thus, began his ministry of providing sound doctrine and doing the work of evangelization, again as the author of our first reading describes. It was in those first couple of years after ordination that one slip on the ice in many ways dictated the rest of his life.

With some ministerial experience under his belt, Father Dick was next asked to serve Holy Cross in internal ministry, specifically as assistant provincial to Father Bill Hogan. He often began conversations about those three years, “When I was important.” He then would expound on something he was asked to do. The reality, however, was that Dick really never cared if he was important. Rather, as Jesus describes in Luke’s Gospel, he was content to be a servant, to seek no accolades and obtain no notable status. Rather, he was content to serve, realizing that such action was precisely what he was ordained to do. And he certainly was content with his role as a servant.

Father Dick next came here to Stonehill College serving both in the counseling center and in campus ministry. His extroverted personality was certainly a hit with the students, some of whom became life-long friends and in his mind life-savers, like his local chiropractor.

Beginning in 1990 Father Dick entered the last period of his ministerial life, the one that would be the longest and certainly for most present here tonight the most significant. While Dick never served as a pastor he was almost omni-present in various parishes, Holy Cross in Easton, St. James in Stoughton, and most recently St. Mary’s in Norton. Again, listening to the exhortation of Paul to Timothy, and realizing that ultimately he was called to be a servant, Dick preached the word and parishioners truly loved it. A prayerful and reflective man, he often told me that Saturday afternoon was dedicated to finalizing his homily for the next day. In his flawless cursive, the Palmer method taught to him by the good sisters, he wrote his homilies and the next day preached the message of Jesus to the best of his ability. Father Dick was a priest’s priest. He considered it a great privilege to celebrate the sacraments, viewing such action as the basic ministry of his life. Baptisms, weddings, funerals, they were all part of the mix, but it was the weekly Sunday Mass that kept them going, especially in the latter years when his back pain, which by now had traveled to other parts of his body, became almost unbearable. The parishioners loved Dick and he was energized by them. It was, as they say, “a mutual admiration society.” He carried on this ministry despite the pain. Even when he felt poorly he always dressed to the “T” and generally quipped “But I look good.” Indeed he did, but he looked even better to God than he did to all of us.

In the last 15 years or so, Father Dick’s outreach to God’s people “morphed” into one of telephone and counseling ministry. Many people, including men of Holy Cross like me, have sat on the couch opposite Father Dick and listened to and learned from his words of wisdom, whether it be wrestling with a problem, seeking advice, or sacramental confession. He spent hours on the phone in the evenings speaking with people, including some who may have crossed his path of life many years earlier. Father Dick was a straight shooter, however; he did not appreciate phonies and certainly he was not one. On the contrary, with him it was “what you see is what you get.”

Never a pastor, but always pastoral, Dick approached life seriously, but was always lighthearted. He drew people to himself like a magnet. I will never forget one particular incident. Several years ago Dick, Larry Jerge, and I were going to dinner at a local restaurant, something we did in those days once a month. Because of his back, we dropped Dick off at the front entrance to the restaurant. We proceeded to park the car and walked to the entrance of the restaurant in less than three minutes. There I observed Dick speaking to a woman with a gentleman standing beside them. They ended their conversation and he gave her a little kiss on the cheek. Over the years, having observed Dick encounter many parishioners and other friends while on these monthly dinner outings, the scene was not that unusual. However, when we were seated at our table I casually asked, “Another parishioner you know?” He rapidly responded, “No, I just met her three minutes ago.” Only the likes of Father Dick could pull that off!

While this story typified the extroverted personality and pastoral nature of Father Dick, there was certainly a serious side, which besides his jokes and enjoyment in engaging people, was, in the end, his greatest contribution to God’s people, the Church, and the Congregation of Holy Cross. It can be best illustrated by a story told by the now popular Catholic writer and speaker, Matthew Kelly, in his book Rediscovering Jesus, a copy of which I was proud to give to Father Dick as a present last Christmas:

Three businessmen hurriedly left an office building in New York after closing a big contract. Eager to catch their plane back to Chicago, they somehow miraculously hailed a cab through all the traffic. They climbed in and the driver raced to the airport. With their boarding passes in hand the three ran toward the gate hoping to catch the flight. As they did, they bumped into a young girl who was selling fruit. They continued on, but one, thinking about what had happened, turned and went back. He found the teenage girl on her hands and knees fumbling about trying to find the fruit that had fallen. It was obvious that she was blind. He got down on his hands and knees and helped gather the fruit. Seeing that some of it had been damaged he pulled $20 out of his wallet and said to her, “I am very sorry that we knocked over your fruit stand. Please take this money for the damaged fruit.” The young girl looked up and said, “Mister, are you Jesus?” “Oh no,” he replied. But she continued, “I only ask because when I got knocked down I prayed for Jesus to help me and you came to my aid.” The man was stunned at the girl’s words and paused for a moment. He straightened up and then calmly walked to the gate. His plane had just left.

Well, my friend, Dick, you certainly were not Jesus, but you were Jesus-like, showing the Lord’s face to all who were privileged to cross your path in life. You have fought the good fight; you have finished the race. You have now returned home and have earned your reward. Rest well, my friend, until we meet again.

Funeral Homily byRev. Hugh Cleary, C.S.C.
Apr. 28, 2017

Chapel of Mary, Stonehill College
Easton, Massachusetts

Dear Sisters and brothers, this Gospel passage of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper was Dick’s favorite. It defined for him the whole meaning of the priesthood and it captured for him the entire purpose and essence of his own life.

Jesus told his disciples that he had given us in this foot washing a model to follow, and Dick followed that model persistently and intently.

In 1993, on Holy Thursday, while on his deathbed, a bishop from England named Anthony Bello, dictated a pastoral letter to the priests of his Diocese about this Gospel passage. It later became entitled The Stole and the Towel.

In this last letter of his, he urged his priests to unite themselves to their ministry by giving special attention to the stole they wore around their shoulders and to the towel they wore around their waists.

The stole, of course, symbolized the priest’s union with Christ in the Eucharist, and the towel symbolized the priest’s union to all people through compassionate service.

Interestingly enough, although Dick had never come across that letter, he had, long before it was written, come to use and embody those very words and symbols of stole and towel in expressing his own life and ministry.

He realized that his life as a priest, his vocation as a Holy Cross consecrated religious, meant that, like Jesus his master, he would spend his life, bent over, down on his knees ministering to the needs of others, symbolically washing their feet and drying them with a towel while the stole on his shoulders, his priestly identity, draped upon the feet of those whom he served.

Dick took very seriously for himself a passage of our Holy Cross Constitution on Formation and Transformation, which says this:

“our journey through life begins before our profession and ends only at our resurrection. We would be created anew to the point when we can say, ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.’

It is the Lord who gives us both the desire and the accomplishment. For our part we must submit to the wisdom and the discipline that will purify us of our selfishness, and will make us wholehearted in the service of his people.” (C 6,59)

We say that grace builds on nature. The spirit of Dick’s close-knit, loving biological family over-flowed into all of his relationships and he built them up into beautiful friendships.

He was a natural born friend. The love of his family gave him an inborn instinct for forming good and lasting friendships.

And now we, his family and friends, have come together to celebrate his resurrection. Thanks be to God, throughout his life Dick was created anew day by day in the likeness of Christ himself.

It was that likeness that gave Dick stature and which helped form his charming and winning personality!

He seemingly had the ability to make friends in an instant with the flash of his warm smile and with that subtle, joking twinkle in his eye that seemed to convey to you that you could depend on him as a lasting, time-tested friend.

In the years after his ordination, in his early ministry, Dick would build on this great family instinct and love for all people.

Early on in his ministry he felt drawn to pursue a master’s degree in counseling psychology. This training allowed him to enter into more formal and professional relationships with people who were suffering the ill-effects of life’s challenges and burdens that would come in one form or another.

They benefitted greatly from Dick’s great natural and professional healing capacities.

Dick’s professional skills aided not only individuals; they also were used to help form the very identity and culture of Holy Cross when Dick served as assistant and vicar provincial to Father Bill Hogan.

Vatican II was underway. It was a time of experimentation that called us to give greater emphasis to the “spirit of the law” over and above the “letter of the law.”

Bill Hogan and Dick Segreve were a wonderful team integrating the best of philosophical and psychological, and spiritual insights of the day.

They also introduced new policies to Holy Cross inspired by Vatican II which would allow for tangible spiritual and structural renewal.

They actively fostered the professional development of each and every religious.

In assuming new ministerial commitments for the Province they promoted auxiliary ministries that suited the individual interests and talents of the various religious.

Very importantly they implemented professional intervention programs for those who were suffering from and adrift in addictions like alcoholism. This was a new courageous venture that proved truly life-saving for some Holy Cross religious who were suffering with various addictions.

Dick also helped us to develop and put in place retirement and healthcare programs for those who suffered from what soon became known as “burn out” or ministerial exhaustion.

Bill and Dick fostered opportunities for renewal sabbaticals and for ongoing formation.

They also initiated the structure of two annual province assemblies at Kings and Stonehill Colleges to promote and deepen our friendship and fraternity. It was a new day for the Province. They were our leaders.

It was through these initiatives and under their leadership that the Eastern Province soon assumed the proud yet infamous identity known throughout Holy Cross as the “freedom province.”

As the years progressed so did the pain in Dick’s damaged back.

As his sufferings increased it became clear that a heavy cross had been placed upon his shoulders, a cross which would press down mightily upon him for the rest of his life.

It would weigh him down so thoroughly, and unrelentingly, becoming heavier with the passing years, that he would find himself crippled by persistent discomfort and pain.

During these years he underwent at least six major back surgeries with little relief. It then remained for him to find, how even this cross of his could be borne as a gift.

Our Holy Cross Constitutions exhort us:

if we like Jesus, encounter and accept suffering in our discipleship, we will move without awkwardness among others who suffer. We must be men with hope to bring. There is no failure the Lord’s love cannot reverse, no humiliation he cannot exchange for blessing, no anger he cannot dissolve, no routine he cannot transfigure. All is swallowed up in victory. He has nothing but gifts to offer. It remains only for us to find how even the cross can be borne as a gift. (C. 8,118)

When Dick fell on that icy path in those early years of his priesthood, the trajectory of his life was reset once and for all, as Fr. Rick Gribble noted last evening in his beautiful eulogy for Dick.

Thanks to God’s grace, and thanks to Dick’s grit, he did find the way to accept and carry his cross as a gift.

During this epoch, the great spiritual writer Henry Nouwen published a book called The Wounded Healer. The title was the perfect description of how Dick would carry out his ministry.

Dick would be kneeling before the feet of the people he served washing them and drying them with his towel, the flaps of the priestly stole falling freely upon this washing and drying.

With the pain in his back he would never really stand up straight again; he would always be bent over in a posture of service, of washing and drying the feet of the disciples and friends of Jesus.

Henry Nouwen wrote: “Making one’s own wounds a source of healing does not call for a sharing of superficial personal pains, but for a constant willingness to see one’s own pain and suffering as rising from the depth of the human condition in which all people share.”

“A compassionate minister is not a medical doctor whose primary task is to take away pain. Rather from the depths of his own pain one who is suffering can come to accept it as an expression of our basic human condition. …, our fallenness.

“Perhaps the main task of the minister is to help others know that we are not alone in our sufferings, in our fears or loneliness or doubt or confusion.

Terrible things happen in life, often with severe consequences. It might be a massive health scare, or a form of financial devastation or a broken relationship or the loss of a loved one in death.

Life can seem to fall in upon us, tragically. And in those moments we have to come to believe that God has not abandoned us but that we can and must still abandon ourselves to God’s loving mercy.

To believe that even in tragedy there is love and that, seemingly against all odds, love can blossom; that even in this, our suffering, we are truly the Beloved of God.

It is only the one who knows suffering who can speak with such authority.

A compassionate healer washing our wounds and drying them with the towel that once dried the healer’s own tears, gives us hope, hope in the cross.

The compassionate healer saves us from sullenness and despair; from anguish and bitterness; from our misery, desolation and hopelessness.

The compassionate healer knows us and loves us to the end.

“Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass over from this world to his Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. …So, during supper… he rose from the table and took off his outer garments.

He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.

…When he had washed their feet, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacherand ‘master,’ and ‘friend’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.

If I, therefore, the master and teacher and friend, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

Thank you, Dick, for being our wounded healer; thank you for being the messenger of God’s own compassionate love. Thank you for bending over and for staying there in that painful condition, washing our wounds with your own hard won, grace-filled grit, understanding and merciful love.

Thank you for your ministry, for the stole around your shoulders and the towel around your waist.

You loved us to the end, Dick, you loved us to the end. Amen.

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