Fr. Tom Cassidy receives Dehon Distinguished Ministry Award

Fr. Tom receives the traditional greeting in India. Since he was in India during the SHSST Awards Ceremony this week he sent his words of acceptance by video.
Fr. Tom receives the traditional greeting in India. Since he was with our formation community there during the SHSST Awards Ceremony this week, he sent his words of acceptance by video.

“Thank you” via the internet

During the annual Alumni Week Awards dinner at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, Fr. Tom Cassidy, SCJ, was awarded the Dehon Distinguished Ministry Award. Fr. Tom is a former president-rector of SHSST, and previously served as provincial superior of the US Province and as a member of the General Council in Rome.

Unfortunately, Fr. Tom was not able to receive his award in person; he is currently serving in India. He instead sent a video with his acceptance speech, the text of which follows:

Monsignor Shecterle, members of the Board of Directors, faculty, staff and students: greetings from Cristu Dehon Nivas our Theological House of Studies, in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh, India. I apologize for not being able to accept the Dehon Distinguished Ministry Award in person, but in my retirement I have donated my services to our young Indian SCJ District, doing what I have done during much of my life as an SCJ: working in formation and education.

I am humbled by your bestowing this award on me. I find myself in very good company, from Fr. Cremer (the first to receive it in 1989), who was my professor of theology during my years at Sacred Heart, to last year’s recipient, Christopher Klusman, who was a student during my tenure as rector. This award is named after our founder, Fr. Leo John Dehon, whose cry that “Priests need to get out of the sacristy!” rings true today in the words of Pope Francis who said that “If you want to be a shepherd you need to come home smelling like the sheep.”

I believe those ideals are and should be part of the formation process at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology just as I believe it is what we are trying to do here at Cristu Dehon Nivas.

I regret that I must keep this so short, but getting it to you over the internet is not simple since our high speed connection is not equal to what we have in the States. So let me close by saying that from the bottom of my heart I thank you for bestowing on me the Dehon Distinugished Ministry Award. My promise to you is that I will try to daily live up to its ideals, and when I return to the States in late October, I hope to have the opportunity to join you for one of your Wednesday liturgies.

Finally, please keep me and our young Indian SCJ District in your prayers, and in turn I will ask that our 26 theologians pray for you as well.

I’ll close with my favorite Spanish expression: “Vaya Con Dios!”

Go With God!