Closing Mass and Banquet 2015
On Friday, May 22, the Pontifical North American College community celebrated its annual Closing Mass and Banquet. The banquet is a time to say thank you to all the departing faculty members who have served in the seminary community. Likewise, it serves as the occasion for ceremonially commissioning the priests and deacons who have completed their seminary formation to preach the Gospel in their home dioceses.
This year, the community was blessed to be able to also celebrate two landmark anniversaries of ordination to the priesthood. The Closing Mass especially honored Rev. James Quigley, O.P., Carl J. Peter Chair of Homiletics (above, right), on his 50th anniversary of priestly ordination, and Rev. Msgr. Gregory Fairbanks, priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, PA, and Adjunct Spiritual Director at the College (above, left), on his 25th anniversary of priestly ordination. Rev. Quigley preached on the joy of priesthood and called us all to reflect on the gift of priesthood.
After Mass, all gathered in the O’Toole Refectory for the Closing Banquet. Throughout the course of the banquet, chalices belonging to those men returning home for priestly ordination were put on display. At the end of the banquet, the PNAC community bid farewell to Rev. Msgr. Gregory Fairbanks; Rev. Msgr. Gerald Vincke, priest for the Diocese of Lansing and Spiritual Director for the College; and Rev. Robert Blyman, priest for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, NY, and the Director of Counseling Services for the College.
Msgr. James Checchio (’92, C’97), Rector of the College, offered his thoughtful words of thanks to the three departing faculty members for their dedication to priestly formation and wonderful contribution to the college community. After the Rector’s address, Msgr. Gerald Vincke (left) spoke to the College on behalf of the departing faculty, recounting his gratitude for the opportunity to serve in the seminary community and to enjoy the fraternity of his brother priests on faculty. Rev. Robert Blyman similarly shared about the blessing it has been for him to serve in the community and share in the community life. After their words, Rev. Mr. Timothy Furlow (’15, Archdiocese of Portland, OR), offered a traditional toast on behalf of the transitional deacon class, all of whom will be ordained priests this summer.
Following the student toast, Rev. Brian Christensen (‘99 Rapid City), Vice Rector for Seminary Life and Director of Human Formation, called each of the College’s departing faculty members, student priests, and deacons by name, commissioning them with the words “sent to preach the Gospel in [the man’s respective diocese].” This is a moving scene as these men rise to their place, ready to return home, both to be ordained to the priesthood and to enter into full-time priestly ministry in their home dioceses.
The evening concluded with the singing of the Ave Regina Caelorum. Thanks be to God for the gift the priesthood of Jesus Christ!