2009 JUBILARIANS Diocesan priests celebrate anniversaries
By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer
Father Eric Harer is celebrating his 25th year in the priesthood. A native of DeWitt, his home parish is Holy Cross. After graduating from Christian Brothers Academy in 1974, Father Harer earned a bachelor’s degree in theology at St. John Fisher College in Rochester. He graduated in 1978.
Father Harer was ordained June 9, 1984 after attending Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, N.Y. His first assignment was as associate pastor at St. Paul’s in Rome where he served until 1989.
From 1989 to 1994, Father Harer served in the same capacity at St. Matthew’s in East Syracuse and from 1994 to 1995 at St. John the Baptist in Syracuse. He served as pastor at St. Paul’s in Oswego from 1995 to 2007. After taking a year’s sabbatical, Father Harer served as parochial vicar at Holy Cross in DeWitt and then St. Mary’s and St. Augustine’s in Baldwinsville. He was recently appointed parochial vicar at large.
Father Harer said he’s enjoyed the last 25 years as a priest. “It’s been a complete joy and it’s had many challenges,” he said. “I love the people in the church and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
Father Harer plans to celebrate his anniversary in the fall at Holy Trinity Church in Fulton.
Msgr. Stephen Rossetti is celebrating his 25th jubilee since his ordination June 9, 1984. “I feel blessed to be a priest,” said Msgr. Rossetti. “Every year gets better. It’s been a wonderful experience.”
A native of Marcellus, Msgr. Rossetti graduated from Marcellus High School in 1969. He pursued post secondary studies at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. and Le Moyne Aquinas House of Studies before graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 1974 with a master’s degree in political science. Msgr. Rossetti completed his seminary work at Theological College in Washington, D.C. He also earned a doctorate in psychology from Boston College.
Msgr. Rossetti began his ministry as an associate pastor at St. Patrick’s in Binghamton in 1984 and from 1987 to 1988, he served in the same capacity at St. James in Johnson City. From 1989 to 1990, Msgr. Rossetti was director of education at the House of Affirmation, a treatment center for priests with psychological and psychosexual problems in Whitinville, Mass. He then went on to serve on the staff at St. Luke Institute, a behavioral health facility in Silver Springs, Md. In 1997, Msgr. Rossetti became president of the organization. He also serves as CEO of the institute and as chair of the board of St. Luke’s Centre in Manchester, England. Msgr. Rossetti currently lectures and gives workshops to clergy and religious in several countries on spirituality, sexuality and mental health.
Msgr. Rossetti will celebrate his jubilee with parties in Maryland and England.
Father Richard Thompson is celebrating his 50th jubilee since his ordination Feb. 2, 1959. His home parish is St. James in Syracuse. After graduating from St. Anthony High School in 1951, Father Thompson completed his seminary work at St. Andrew and St. Bernard Seminaries in Rochester.
Father Thompson’s first assignment was as associate pastor at St. Mary’s in Cortland and also at St. Paul’s in Binghamton from 1959 to 1968. He served as administrator at those parishes as well. From 1968 to 1972, he served as associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament in Johnson City and in 1972, took over as pastor at St. Anne’s in Parish. He served as pastor at St. Joseph’s in Boonville from 1977 to 1991, Holy Family in Fulton in 1991, and in 2002, took on the added assignment of pastor at St. Michael’s in Fulton. Father Thompson retired in 2003 and currently resides in Bradenton, Fla.
Father Thompson’s special assignments include serving as the bishop’s representative at Holy Family, as an advisor for many years on the Parish Priest Senate, Vicar for the Northern Region of the diocese and as chaplain of the Booneville and Parish Fire Departments, as well as the Knights of Columbus in Booneville and Fulton. In addition, he served as chaplain for the Catholic Daughters of America in Johnson City and for the Nocturnal Adoration Society in Binghamton and Johnson City.
Looking back over the last 50 years, Father Thompson said he has enjoyed the priesthood. “I loved every minute of it,” he said. “It was a wonderful experience.”
Father Thompson celebrated his anniversary at a Mass on Feb. 1 at his parish church, Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs, and also the next day during a Mass in which he celebrated, at his residence, the Westminister Health Center.
Father Thomas McGrath is celebrating his 50th year of priesthood in May. Father McGrath’s home parish is St. Brigid’s in Syracuse. A 1951 graduate of Christian Brothers Academy, he completed his seminary work at St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s in Rochester and Theological College in Washington, D.C.
Father McGrath is currently pastor of St. Mary of the Lake in Skaneateles, a position he has held since 1995.
Looking back over the last 50 years, Father McGrath said the experience has been very fulfilling and challenging. “It’s a humbling but joyful experience to be a parish priest,” he said.
After Father McGrath was ordained on May 23, 1959, he was assigned as associate pastor to St. John the Baptist in Syracuse until that September, when he began to serve in the same capacity at Our Lady Lourdes, also in Syracuse. In 1966, he was assigned to St. Mary’s in Cortland as associate pastor. He served as principal at Oswego Catholic High School from 1970 to 1973 and as principal at Rome Catholic High School from 1973 to 1975. From 1967 to 1976, Father McGrath was a school administrator in the Cortland, Oswego, Rome and Binghamton districts. He went on to serve as pastor at St. Paul’s in Norwich from 1976 to 1980, when he was assigned as associate pastor at St. Thomas in New Hartford. He served as pastor at St. Mary of the Assumption in Rome from 1981 to 1986 and at St. Ann’s in Syracuse until 1995, when he became pastor at St. Mary’s in Skaneateles.
To commemorate the anniversary of Father McGrath’s ordination, a special Mass will be held at St. Mary’s at 4:30 p.m. on May 23 and another special Mass and reception will be held on May 24 at 12 p.m.
Msgr. John Flanagan, celebrating 50 years of priesthood, has retired and is now serving as parochial vicar at Historic Old St. John’s Church in Utica. He also assists pastors in the Utica area. “It’s a joy to serve God’s people,” said Msgr. Flanagan.
Msgr. Flanagan’s home parish is St. Patrick’s in Syracuse and he graduated from his parish’s high school. He completed his seminary work at St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s in Rochester.
After his ordination on Feb. 2, 1959, Msgr. Flanagan served as assistant pastor at St. John’s in Camden. He went on to serve in the same position at St. Margaret’s in Mattydale in 1961, Our Lady of Lourdes in Utica in 1967, Sacred Heart in Utica in 1970 and St. John’s in Utica in 1972. He served as administrator for a short time at St. Paul’s in Whitesboro in 1974. That same year, Msgr. Flanagan began serving as associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament in Utica and in 1975, served in the same position at St. John’s in Utica. From 1976 to 1993, Msgr. Flanagan served as pastor at St. John’s in Utica and in the same position at St. Paul’s in Norwich until 1995, when he was assigned as pastor at Sacred Heart in Utica.
Msgr. Flanagan was chaplain to the Spanish Apostolate from 1975 to 1993.
Reflecting back on the last 50 years as a priest, Msgr. Flanagan said he enjoyed a variety of experiences because he served both inner-city and suburban churches. “I tried to serve the best I
could,” he said. “The people — they are the best teachers a priest can have. It’s a joy to serve God’s people.”
Msgr. Charles Fahey, Marie Ward Doty Professor of Aging Studies, Emeritus at Fordham University, is celebrating 50 years in the priesthood. A native of Syracuse, his home parish is Blessed Sacrament in Syracuse. Msgr. Fahey graduated from Christian Brothers Academy in 1951 and completed his seminary work at St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s in Rochester.
After his ordination on Feb. 2, 1959, Msgr. Fahey’s first assignment was as assistant pastor at St. Vincent de Paul in Syracuse. From 1961 to 1963, he served as assistant director of Syracuse Catholic Charities, while at the same time earning a master’s degree in social work from Catholic University. In 1967, Msgr. Fahey was appointed director of Syracuse Catholic Charities. In 1979, he became the director of the Third Age Center (a gerontological center) at Fordham University in Bronx, N.Y. Currently, he serves as a program officer of the Millbrook Memorial Fund.
He has served as board member and president of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging and the American Society on Aging and Catholic Charities USA. He served as a board member of the Daughters of Charity National Health System, the Sisters of Mercy Health System, the Catholic Health Association and the Volunteers of America. Currently, he is a member of the board and chair of the National Council on the Aging. He was a member of the National Commission on Quality in Long Term Care.
Msgr. Fahey has been a consultant on ethics to the American Health Care Association and the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. He was a spokesperson for the Holy See in the 1982 World Assembly on Aging (Vienna 1982) and served in leadership roles in 1971, 1981 and 1995. He was a delegate to the 2005 White House Conferences on Aging and was a member of the U.S. Delegation to the 2002 United Nations Second World Assembly on Aging (Madrid 2002).
Msgr. Fahey is a fellow of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science, the Gerontological Society of America, the National Academy for Social Insurance and the New York Academy of Medicine.
He is the recipient of five honorary degrees. On May 10, Msgr. Fahey will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Syracuse University on the occasion of the School of Social Work’s 50th anniversary.
“It’s been an unusual but grace-filled journey,” said Msgr. Fahey, as he looked back on his 50 years of priesthood.
Msgr. Fahey said he shared the celebration of his jubilee last February with Father Charles Major at St. Joseph the Worker in Liverpool. In addition, the Jesuit Community at Fordham University hosted a celebration for him.
Msgr. John Madden will celebrate his 50th anniversary of priesthood May 24 with a jubilee Mass and a luncheon afterward at the Hall of Presidents at Colgate University.
Msgr. Madden’s home parish is St. John the Evangelist in New Hartford. After graduating from New Hartford High School in 1949, Msgr. Madden pursued post-graduate studies at the University of Notre Dame where he earned a bachelor’s degree in pre-med and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at St. Bernard’s in Rochester. Msgr. Madden completed his seminary work at St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s in Rochester.
After his ordination on May 23, 1959, Msgr. Madden was assigned to St. Agatha’s in Canastota as parochial vicar. He held the same position at St. Mary’s in Clinton from 1963 to 1965. In 1965, he became the associate director of Utica Catholic Charities and parochial vicar at St. Mark’s in Utica. From 1967 to 1971, Msgr. Madden served as parochial vicar at St. John the Baptist in Rome. He served as pastor at St. Mary’s in Florence from 1971 to 1975 and as director of Rome Catholic Charities from 1971 to 1975, when he took over as director of Utica/Rome Catholic Charities. After serving there five years, Msgr. Madden was appointed pastor to St. Bernard’s in Waterville and St. Mary’s in North Brookville. In 1993, he became pastor at St. Helena’s in Sherrill. He was appointed pastor at St. Mary’s in Hamilton in 1994 and administrator at St. Joan of Arc in Morrisville in 2000.
Msgr. Madden’s special assignments include chaplain to Rome Catholic Nurses and director of the Catholic Charities Family Life Program.
Msgr. Madden said he is impressed with what is happening in the church. “I’ve witnessed a wonderful renewal in the areas of social justice awareness, liturgical development and stronger religious education programs,” he said.
Father James F. Smith, SJ, is a member of the Jesuit Community at Le Moyne College and is celebrating his 50th jubilee.
Father Smith’s home parish is Most Holy Rosary in Syracuse. After graduating from Christian Brothers Academy, he attended Le Moyne College from 1947 to 1949.
Father Smith entered the Society of Jesus July 30, 1949, at St. Andrew-on-Hudson in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He completed his seminary work at Bellarmine College in Plattsburgh, N.Y. and Woodstock College in Woodstock, Md. He earned a Ph.D. in mathematics in 1959.
Father Smith was ordained June 20, 1962 at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., by Bishop Joseph Burke. He served on the Le Moyne College faculty, teaching mathematics and computer science from 1964 to 1993. He also held the position of academic dean from 1976 to 1979.
Father Smith’s service in Jesuit Communities includes serving as community administrator and treasurer of the Jesuit Novitiate in Syracuse from 1992 to 1997 and at the Le Moyne Jesuit community from 1997 to 2005.
Father Smith served as parish priest at St. Ignatius Loyola in Manhattan from 2005 to 2007. He also served at Ciszek Hall, a residence for Jesuit seminarians at Fordham University, from 2007 to 2008.
Father Smith’s current ministry includes providing pastoral ministry, retreats and spiritual direction at Le Moyne College.
Celebrating his 50th year since his ordination on Feb. 2, 1959, Father Charles Major has spent much of his vocation at St. Joseph the Worker Church in Liverpool.
After spending over three decades at the parish, he still approaches his pastorate with enthusiasm.
“I continue to be motivated and I continue to be challenged by the various situations that come up,” Father Major said, adding that the sacraments as they pertain to “life, birth, marriage, the Eucharist and even death” are particularly important to him.
Father Major anticipates remaining at St. Joseph the Worker until he retires.
“I look forward to it,” he said.
Father Major was born Aug. 30, 1933, and his home parish is Blessed Sacrament Church in Syracuse. He attended Blessed Sacrament School and graduated from Christian Brothers Academy before enrolling at Le Moyne College. Following graduation from college, he completed his seminary work at St. Bernard’s in Rochester. He received his master’s degree from Syracuse University.
Father Major was ordained on Feb. 2, 1959, at Blessed Sacrament. At the time, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Church was under renovation.
His first assignment was as assistant pastor at St. John the Evangelist Church in Syracuse, where he served from 1959 to 1963. In 1963 he began teaching at Bishop Ludden Junior/Senior High School, while in residence at St. Therese of the Little Flower in Syracuse. In 1966, he joined the faculty at Wadhams Hall Seminary in Ogdensburg. He became the director of Aquinas House in Syracuse in 1973 before his assignment at St. Joseph the Worker.
Father John Roock is celebrating his 50th year in the priesthood.
Reflecting on his five decades of service to the Syracuse Diocese and to God, Father Roock noted that people he ministered to were a vital inspiration.
“The priesthood is what you make of it but the time does go by rather rapidly,” Father Roock said. “What keeps you going is the encouragement of the faithful. The goodness of the people motivates you.”
Father Roock was born Oct. 13, 1931, in Syracuse. He graduated from St. Vincent de Paul High School and began his studies at St. Jerome in Canada and studied philosophy at St. Bernard’s in Rochester. He studied theology at Christ the King Seminary at St. Bonaventure in Olean, N.Y.
Father Roock was ordained on May 23, 1959, at Blessed Sacrament Chuch because the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was under renovation.
He celebrated his first Mass at St. Matthew’s Church in East Syracuse.
His first assignment was as associate pastor at St. Michael’s Church on Onondaga Hill in 1959. From 1962 to 1966, Father Roock served as a temporary associate pastor at St. Mary’s Church in Baldwinsville. From 1966 to 1970 he was associate pastor at St. Joseph the Worker in Liverpool and from 1970 to 1975 he served as an associate pastor at Most Holy Rosary Church in Syracuse. In 1975, he received his first full pastorate at St. Patrick Church in Taberg. In 1981, he was appointed pastor of St. Helena in Sherrill. From 1993 until his retirement in 2008, Father Roock was pastor of Our Lady of Angels Church in Endwell. To mark his 50th jubilee year, Father Roock will celebrate Mass at St. Helena’s on May 17 and Holy Family (formerly Our Lady of Angels) on May 31.