Over this past weekend, it was a great honor to witness not only the Priestly Ordination of my long time friend, now, Fr. Patrick Summerhays, but also his Mass of Thanksgiving. The ordination took place on Saturday, June 6 at The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption through the apostolic authority of Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone. The Mass of Thanksgiving, held on June 7, was at St. Patrick’s Parish in Larkspur, just north of San Francisco in Marin County. To say that Saturday and Sunday were awesome would be the understatement of the year. The joy on Fr. Patrick’s face says it all (see pictures below)!
I have known Fr. Patrick since 1994, when I was a first year student (I transferred in as a second semester sophomore) and he was a senior in the St. Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco. Along with many others, who were in the Institute at the time, we quickly became friends because of our mutual interest for philosophy, theology, literature, Catholic culture, sports, and the overall enjoyment of being full of life as university students. We, as Henry David Thoreau says in Walden, “wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”
The friendships were planted in soil so rich that even 20 years later many returned to witness our friend Pat Summerhays be ordained to the Catholic Priesthood. For many of us, the Catholic Priesthood plays an important and significant role in not only our lives, but also in the lives of our families. As students, we were educated and spiritually advised by some of the most orthodox Jesuit minds in the order. To this day, we are united fraternally through the Communion of Saints to them as not only our spiritual fathers, but also as our brothers in Christ.
For me personally, the weekend was a glimpse into the past, into the city, and into the friendships, where I truly learned about Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church for the first time. It was in the St. Ignatius Institute where my intellectual conversion and spiritual awakening originated. I can remember spending many nights in the library, and in Fr. Pat’s father’s office, a professor at USF, during my first year studying philosophy and sharing the things we were most passionate about at the time. The three years I spent in the St. Ignatius Institute were the best three years of my twenties.
The weekend was not only a glimpse into the past, but a vision of the present and the future. When friendships are planted, watered, and pruned as these friendships have been for 20 years, you may not see them frequently, but when you do you can pick up right where you left off. Since these friendships are rooted in virtue, goodness, and beauty, they are rightly, as Aristotle says, true friendships.
Again, personally, this weekend was the most desired vacation I have this summer. After all that I have endured since January, most devastating being the loss of my father seven weeks ago, the ability to see my long time friend ordained as a priest forever, as well as seeing many true and old friends, who have supported and prayed for me, was simply pure joy.
As I conclude this blog post, I would like you to pray for three things –
First and foremost, please pray for Fr. Patrick Summerhays as he begins his priestly ministry at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Being a Catholic priest is never an easy vocation, but since this neo-pagan world is so hostile to Catholicism these days, please pray for strength, courage, and holiness that Fr. Patrick, and really all priests, will stand on the front lines leading us, and giving us Jesus Christ through the Holy Eucharist.
Second, pray for the rise and continued growth of good Catholic universities and institutions, like the once great St. Ignatius Institute, that they may provide opportunities for individuals to have a classical education, reading and studying the Great Books as many of us did in the SII. When society implodes, as it as done before, it will be Catholic culture that will save it again.
Finally, pray for good, selfless, self-sacrificial friendships rooted in virtue, goodness, and beauty. Often today, it’s all about the “I” and not the “we.” Let us pray for a strong and Christ centered counter-revolution to the disastrous sexual revolution that is still spawning venom today. Pray for healing among friends, spouses, and families where this venom has been allowed to grow.
This blog post is dedicated to not only Fr. Patrick Summerhays, but to all the administrators, students and professors of the St. Ignatius Institute between the years of 1976-2001.