Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fr. Dennis Hartigan Professes Vows as a Salesian

Fr. Dennis Hartigan
Professes Vows as a Salesian

In the presence of 25 Salesians, the 830 students of Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., the school staff, a priest and a deacon from the Diocese of Toledo, family members, and Ohio friends, Fr. Dennis Hartigan, SDB, made his profession as a Salesian, for one year, on Friday, October 3.

With Fr. Jim McKenna and Bro. Bernie Dube' as witnesses,
Fr. Dennis pronounces the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience
as a Salesian. Fr. Tom Dunne, provincial, receives his profession.
Fr. Dennis returned to the Salesians as a candidate in July 2013 after 33 years as a priest of the Toledo Diocese in Ohio; he had been a Salesian in temporary vows from 1971 to 1977 but departed to become a diocesan priest. As a candidate he taught religion at Don Bosco Prep, and he continues as a teacher there. Fr. Tom Dunne, provincial, received his profession.

Fr. Dennis was born in Kearny, N.J., in 1950, and after his graduation from Kearny High School entered the Sons of Mary program at Don Bosco College in Newton in 1969, where his classmates included the future Fr. Jim McKenna and Bro. Bernie DubĂ©. Last Friday Fr. Jim and Bro. Bernie were the official witnesses of Fr. Dennis’s renewal of Salesian profession.

After his first profession on September 1, 1971, then-Bro. Dennis completed his college studies at DBC, then did two years of practical training as a missionary in the Dominican Republic. He started theological studies in 1976 at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Worthington, Ohio, where almost all our province’s men went for theology from 1967 until the late 1990s. But at the end of his first year and the expiration of his triennial vows, Dennis opted to seek the diocesan priesthood, was accepted as a candidate by Bishop Donovan of Toledo, and transferred to Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West in Cincinnati.

Fr. Dennis was ordained in 1980 and spent the next 33 years as a parish priest, high school teacher and administrator, and college professor. He earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Dayton in 2004.

Fr. Tom Dunne rehearsed some of those biographical details for the DBP students as he started his homily. He observed that in Ohio Fr. Dennis had retained his Salesian spirituality and brought it to his ministry in the Toledo Diocese. His priorities were the same; only the manner of living them out as a diocesan priest was different.

After being vested with the medal of a temporary professed SDB
and receiving a copy of the Constitutions, Fr. Dennis makes his way
back to his seat with the other concelebrants.
But Fr. Dennis felt called, finally, to live those priorities by vow in the context of religious community and to evangelize the young through living poverty, chastity, and obedience as a member of a community.

The vocational journey of Fr. Dennis, Fr. Tom said, is a lesson for everyone’s life. He continually discerned God’s movement in his heart. God has a role for us in life, a way for each of us to contribute to society, and we go through life trying to discern that role. It’s a process of listening and being sensitive to the movements of our hearts.

Fr. Tom expressed his appreciation for how Fr. Dennis made a transition from using a PhD in education to teach at the university level to teaching five periods of freshman religion at DBP, and doing so with great joy.

We all rejoice, Fr. Tom said, because Fr. Dennis has answered God’s call, and we rejoice also because of the support his vocation has received from the DBP community—SDBs, staff, and students.

At the end of Mass, Fr. Dennis spoke, making three points. 1st, he thanked Fr. Tom for all his assistance in the long process of returning to the Congregation, then thanked the SDBs of Ramsey, the students, and the rest of the confreres of the province for their support. 2nd, after commenting on how proud he has been to represent DBP in the area (and how much he’s enjoyed teasing alumni of certain other schools), he urged the students to listen to Don Bosco’s call to become his sons and continue his apostolic mission. Finally, he explained how joyful it is to be a Salesian in general and a member of the DBP community in particular, commenting on some of the fun the SDBs have at home.

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