DHS class of 1961 celebrates 50th

August 5-7, Divine Heart Seminary’s class of 1961 gathered at Sacred Heart School of Theology for its 50th reunion.  Among the attendees was Fr. Bernie Rosinski, who was a DHS teacher in 1961.

Fr. Bernie wrote the following reflection on the reunion:

August 5-7 saw a Donaldson alumni class gather for the 50th anniversary of their graduation from Divine Heart Seminary at Donaldson, IN. 1961 was the year their fifty year passage began. Along the way, some of these seminarians became priests while others moved on to other things: acquiring a wife and having children and grandchildren, engaging in professions, and walking the road they chose toward happiness.

They came from New England, the South, the Midwest, and the Far West; some came with their wives and some without their wives, not knowing I guess, what to expect. They were housed, you see, in Sacred Heart Monastery/School of Theology.

A. Dell Orto, R. and R. Dick, E. Dobrowolski, A. Durtka, J. Gietl, M. Glackin,  P. Gonsorcik, P. Lloyd, J. Madden, R. Navarre, and J. Wiess: more than 50% and not a bad return for a graduating class of 22.  (And note the alphabetical order!).

There were other Donaldson alumni among those present; some graduated before and some after. All told, about 10-15 more people. The rather limited group made for easy meeting and listening.

Friday evening saw people gather for dinner and then chat over beer and wine afterwards, renewing acquaintance. The wives were eager to meet the people who had prominently figured in their husbands’ story telling about seminary days.

Saturday was filled with programmed events: Mass, breakfast, a “show and tell” with DVD’s and talk on SCJ’s Today presented by Frs. Rosinski, Fix and Br. Nguyen. After lunch, an impromptu picture taking session occurred and everyone seemed to have a camera. We all moved to the rec room to see a DVD featuring 8mm film taken of seminary students from the late 50’s. This was followed by an opportunity to see what SCJ’s had been doing: a new Provincialate office building and conference center; a new residence and retirement facility; and a chance to pray for former teachers and classmates buried at the mausoleum. The social hour was followed by dinner and then time together.

Sunday had an extended breakfast period that was followed by a mass concelebrated with priest students from the ESL program, and then farewells. One last picture-taking session was a way to prolong togetherness and delay breaking up the party.

Some Reflections

In 2006 I had the good fortune to have participated at a 45th reunion of this class together with, perhaps, 75 other Donaldson alumni (including the reunion organizer who had been dismissed from the seminary but loved it greatly as he himself told us. . .). The gathering took place at a hotel complex on the south side of Chicago. The bedrooms were larger and the meeting rooms better equipped than what the seminary could offer; the meals were like most catered meals; the services were adequate and the media devices had professionals run them. As much as I and others enjoyed being there, something was missing that this reunion at Sacred Heart Monastery/School of Theology supplied: a chance to reconnect: not just with fellow students, but with the very people who were responsible for the Donaldson seminary: the SCJ’s.

This desire to reconnect started to become evident at the mausoleum. People would search out names of their former teachers; some would bless them but others might withhold such blessings and then explain why. No one was indifferent to them. These alumni spent an inordinate amount of time talking about these men, what they meant, how they influenced, those who were their heroes, and some who proved their nemeses. Such talk was more in evidence than talk about boyish minor seminary escapades though there was some of that too, inevitably.

These aging alumni also expressed contentment and deep satisfaction that the SCJ’s had maintained certain properties, developed them, were working in various apostolates, and were growing in other parts of the world. The ESL program at Sacred Heart Monastery/School of Theology gave concrete evidence at Sunday mass of the face of the congregation-to-come, with its Africans, Orientals, and Latin Americans. They rejoiced in the catholicity of the church, obvious in the features of these young SCJ concelebrants.

For me personally it was a joy and a pleasure to hear that the very people I and my SCJ colleagues were once responsible for as teachers and formation directors had the very same esteem and great respect I once held and continue to hold for my own teachers and formation directors when I was a young seminarian at that same Divine Heart. Plus ça change, plus ça reste. The more things change, the more they stay the same. It goes back to the love of God and neighbor taught by Fr. Dehon to his congregation. Apparently, his lessons took.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable two and a half days of reconnecting, on all sides.