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Maryknoll, New York, August 3-5, 2001
By Joe and Ann Bukovchik
SEE BELOW for pictures
One June 11, 1966, 33 men were ordained at Maryknoll. Today, 12 continue in Maryknoll; 6 of them celebrated the weekend in person: Albertine, Healey, John Hennigan Moran, Shea, Martin, and Meccia. Including them, over 60 of us celebrated this milestone together. Invited were as many as could be located, of those who had ever entered and left during all our student years. They came from all over the United States.
Although we have not seen each other for 40 years or more, there was a pulling together to celebrate the simple, profound things that are deeply personal to us. This 'pulling together' was orchestrated primarily by Bob Nugent, Leo Shea, and John Moran. We broke open our lives, and deep ties of affection were renewed. The sense of unity we experienced on the weekend was palpable, satisfying and peaceful. Beyond recalling old times, there was the deeper sharing of our treasures, which we have developed over the past half-lifetime. There is a vast, amazing reservoir of talent among us. We are a leaven in the world. There is great goodness in our class, and so much talent, which has not been lost to Maryknoll, but which has been used for the greater good of humankind. It's an honor to be counted among such men and women of Godly ways.
We recognized the lasting effects of the Maryknoll ideals we were taught. No matter how long one was with Maryknoll, some as little as several years to more than 25 years before they left, the indelible mark of the Society on us was a joy to experience with our classmates. We recognized the altruistic side of pure giving for others, as Jesus gave Himself.
If there were something that one of us were called upon to do for a fellow classmate, we would not hesitate. It did not matter where each person was theologically. Some have deep faith, while others struggle with faith. We felt accepted by each other and Maryknoll. There was a peaceful spirit of comraderie among us just the way we were.
It was remarkable to see how some have aged, while others are like men that time has forgotten. (Geary Simmons sells waters from the Fountain of Youth). Fortunately, it's not what we look like on the outside that truly matters, but how we are on the inside. 35 years have sculpted and crafted us in deeply personal ways. As one reads the biographies, a marvelous keepsake of the weekend, it is easy to see the rich mix of talents among us. Some have suffered greatly and have fallen under the weight of the cross. Some have already gone to God, like Joe Hart, Frank Paris, Wayne Van Grundsven, Frank Uhler, Herb Brauer, Gene Seider, Tom Platko, Jim McManus, Bill Hohman, Bill Cotter, et alibi. How quickly the sands of time doth run. To this end, we decided to celebrate our 40th anniversary together, hopefully before we part with more classmates.
On the lighter side, On Saturday morning at breakfast, I remarked to Tom Cullerton, the grandfather of our class, "Now I know that God hears prayers. You see, last night I prayed that you would make it through the night, and you are still alive this morning!" Tom flashed his inimitable smile that seemed to say, "You scoundrel- still at it after all these years!" I accepted his look with relish.
Jim Marshall brought a delightful surprise for each of us, copies of "The Bedford Diary". What a treasure to read this fond memory and bring it back in a flash of imagination.
We made a trip to St. Theresa's and saw Fr. Del Goodman and others. Then we walked to the cemetery and gathered around Frank Paris' grave where Dick Albertine led a prayer service in Frank's honor. A downpour cut this short. One comment was heard: "If Frank had anything to do with the rain, he would have said we ought not to make anything over him and be on with other things". Two women interpreted the rain to mean a message from Frank, "Hey, you guys, I'm here with you."
It was satisfying to see our former professors, Bill McCarthy and Bill Frazer. It was also quite moving to visit the cemetery and recognize so many names. When I came to Al Fedders' plot, I couldn't help but clap and cheer for dear 'Uncle Al.'
Leo Shea and the other missioners gave reports to us on Africa, South America, the Far East and the future of Maryknoll. We viewed a moving Maryknoll promotional video, which is available for the asking. The Maryknoll Affiliates and Lay Program will have an increasingly important role in the future. Marty Manahan and his wife, from Seattle, reported on the Affiliates. Several class members are members and welcome others to join. When we were ordained, there was something like 1,200 priests in the Society. Now there are 500+, and in ten years the numbers are predicted to be in the 300's. Yet, John Moran remarked that there is so much going on at Maryknoll that they are running out of space to accommodate everything.
The interior revamping of the classrooms is in progress. Only one of the four classrooms remains untouched. The pool is now a basketball court. An extensive infirmary treats children of Lay missioners as well, as nursery decorations on the walls attest. The bumpy sidewalks of New York in the refectory were covered in our day by the smooth green marble-like poured tile. Now, it is carpeted. Marriott provides the catering, and a security firm guards the building and grounds. Down in the crypt area, near one of the many side altars is a huge basket containing letters from benefactors asking for prayers. The men are encouraged to stop by and read some, and remember them in prayer.
A final light note: Dick Albertine, Joe Slaby and I used to play the Italian fingers game, Mora that was outlawed to be played in public there. Well, at our 25th anniversary, we three played. Now at the 35th, Albertine had itchy fingers and was hot to reclaim his former glory of world champion. Too bad Dick, you'll have another shot in five years!
It was voiced that "you can take the man out of Maryknoll, but you can't take Maryknoll out of the man" and it can be added - " out of his marriage". It was evident that you can't take Maryknoll out of their marriages by the presence of their wives and the well wishes of those who could not attend. Their support of their husbands as well as their enrichment of the weekend made them part of the reunion experience. They were part of the welcoming team, co-led prayer services and discussion groups, visited St.Theresa's and greeted the residents, as well as toured the Maryknoll Sisters Motherhouse, and visited friends in the Sister's infirmary. Some wives are former Sisters of various Communities and some have other Christian and non-Christian beliefs. It didn't matter. All were one, and welcomed, and added to the camaraderie and levity of the weekend. The leadership team's feminine sensitivities of facilities, flowers, welcoming, and gratitude for their presence, demonstrated to the women the wholesomeness Maryknoll has created in the Class of '66. The wives were grateful for having been invited and included the entire weekend, even in a class photo.
Thirty-Fifth Anniversary Reunion of the Maryknoll Class of 1966
Maryknoll, New York, August 5, 2001
Front Row l to r Bob Kleeman, Dan Driscoll-Shaw, Ed Farrell, Jim McGraw, Charlie Kircher, John Cookson, John Norum, Dick Albertine, John Zammit, Joe Bukovchik, and Charlie Friel
Middle Row l to r Bob Nugent (with shades), Jim Morrissey (behind Nugent), Bob Fasanello, Marty Manahan, Regis Ging, Leroy Spaniol (purple shirt), Tom Cullerton, Frank Cismoski (green shirt), John Douglas (with ball cap), Geary Britton-Simmons (stripped shirt), Tom Dunne, John Martin, and Ron Stec
Back Row l to r Frank Dowd, Bill Lepping, John Hennigan Moran, Paul Maguire, Joe Healey, Frank Meccia, Don Carson, Jim Marshal, Cornelius Carr, Tom Groarke, and Leo Shea
Attending the reunion but not in the photograph: Ed Connors, Joe Maher, George McShea and Jim Nieckarz.
John Cookson, Charlie Kircher
Patricia McShea, Ann Bukovchik
Winanne Kreger, Lila Marshall, Susan Spaniol
Lila Marshall, Susan Spaniol, Adrianne Carr, Ann Bukovchik, Veronica Douglas, Winanne Kreger
Leo Shea, Tom Cullerton, John Martin
John Martin (unofficial photographer of the festivities), Paul Maguire, Regis Ging, John Cookson, John Norum, Frank Cismoski, John Douglas and Charlie Friel