Sixty-three years ago this September, young men from the Archdiocese of Chicago who were discerning a call to the priesthood walked into the doors of Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary.
“We all had the same goal in mind back when we were 14 years old—the priesthood,” said Quigley alumnus Tom Gawne. This summer, about 40 men gathered at a different location, Gawne’s lakeside cottage, to reflect on their days at Quigley and visit with their former classmates.
“Some of us changed,” Gawne said. “Priesthood wasn’t the goal in mind, but what remained was the friendship.” When Gawne bought his cottage 15years ago, he knew he wanted to give back to his classmates, especially those who became priests. By offering up his home as a place where they could tell their stories, honor their friendships, and reminisce, Gawn has been able to “get the guys together once a year.”
Father John Cusick, one of those Quigley classmates and a retired priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago, served as the celebrant for their Mass. During the Mass, each of the known 55 deceased classmates’ names were read aloud together, and Cusick invited his classmates to share a brief memory of the deceased. Cusick professed,
“We came together as a class – living and dead,” Cusick said. “We had the privilege of remembering each classmate by name.”
Fellow classmate and retired priest Rev. Thomas Franzman said he also appreciates the opportunity to reconnect.
“It was harder to get the guys up there [to the reunion] who were ordained, until they retired. We would have more who were not ordained, due to the fact we priests were all still working,” he said. “Now more of the ordained guys seem to make it, too.”
When they gather together as mostly retired men, it is a time to get to know one another better as who they are now.
“It’s a time to pray for the guys and their families, for their wives and children,” Franzman said. “This is our 15th gathering, and it would be a good idea for more classes to do this. I think it’s a valuable thing for us. We love it and want to keep this up as long as we can.”
Cusick echoed that statement, “People would benefit by coming together — not just the ordained – those who went to school together. At one time, we all had something in common: we were classmates in high school or college. We were a bunch of kids who grew up together. Now, through Tom Gawne, we’ve been able to stay together.”