Fr. Don's Desk

From Birth to Forty Years a Priest

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, in the “immediate” South Hills (S. Side, Knoxville, Mt. Washington and Carrick).   In Grade School I met several Passionist priests and brothers from St. Paul of the Cross Monastery in Pittsburgh.  I attended their vocation programs monthly, conducted by Fr. Julian Morgan.  I was attracted to their hospitable and prayerful community life, and their active ministry life of preaching. So many of them were gifted preachers. After graduating from St. Justin’s Grade School, I entered the Passionist Minor Seminary in Dunkirk, N.Y.  Minor Seminary was a wonderful experience for me – good teachers who dedicated their lives to teaching and mentoring us, enjoyable comradeship with students our age and older, a spiritual environment, and opportunities to play various sports.  In 1964 I entered the Passionist Novitiate in Pittsburgh and professed my vows as a Passionist Religious on August 15th, 1965. I was 21 years old.

I loved the religious life as I studied to become a Passionist priest.  I wanted to be like so many Passionists I came to know and care for. In my forty plus years as a priest I have been mostly engaged in our Retreat Center Ministry. I have been in charge of three of our large Retreat Centers for fifteen years… in Pittsburgh, W. Springfield, MA., and Riverdale (Bronx), N.Y.  My ministry in our Retreat Centers offered me wonderful opportunities to work with a variety of man and women on our retreat center ministry teams, and to minister to literally thousands of men and women and youth who attended our retreat programs. I returned to our Pittsburgh Monastery in 2001.   The Monastery overlooks Pittsburgh’s historic South Side.  From 2001 – 2013 I served as the assistant superior of our Monastery Community.  Besides the administrative work, I especially enjoyed the various opportunities to preach… both at our own Monastery Church on weekends at our Monday Novena Masses, and in local parishes where I preached Parish Missions. The ministry of Reconciliation at our Monastery is also a blessed occasion to exercise my priestly ministry for the many people who come to St. Paul’s for confession. I am also the Director of our Monastery’s Associates – a group of laymen and laywomen who have covenanted themselves with the Passionists and share in our prayer, ministry and spiritual charism and values.

I am also blessed by my ministry with men and women in AA.

What advice would I give to anyone considering the diocesan priesthood, or religious life and priesthood or brotherhood?  Recognize that this is a “call” to service, a call to work with and for God’s people, It is a life of service, following in the footsteps of Jesus.  A prayerful life is essential, as is a genuine love of people… a little bit different from the conspicuous consumption so often trumpeted as the be all and end all of life. Priesthood and Religious Life are a challenge, and a wonderful and joyful blessing.  We answer the “call” and persevere with God’s help.