Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Yes, today is our mom's birthday, so everyone be sure to talk to her today to wish her a happy birthday. Like any mother, she'll probably give you grief because you don't call more often, and she won't want any fuss being made about her birthday. Also, don't dare ask her how old she is!

Today's feast day is also a special day here in my home diocese of Metuchen. It was ten years ago today, September 8, 1997, that Msgr. Vincent DePaul Breen was ordained and installed as the third Bishop of Metuchen. He came to us from Brooklyn, one of three children in his family (two of the three became Priests). His father worked for the St. Vincent DePaul Society in the Brooklyn diocese, and Bp. Breen would joke that his older brother (Edward) was named for his father, his sister (Irene) was named for his mother, and he (Vincent DePaul) was named for the family business.

His ordination and installation was the first (and still only) time that a bishop of Metuchen was ordained in our cathedral. Before his early retirement due to Alzheimer's Disease in 2001, he ordained ten men to the Priesthood (affectionately called the "Breen-ie Babies"). On May 30, 1998, I was number four.

I once heard him remark that, when he was ordained to the Priesthood, he was the first ordination of a newly ordained auxiliary bishop in Rome. For years, when he'd visit Rome, he would stop in to visit this bishop who ordained him. He was always amazed to see a photograph of him from his ordination day in the bishop's residence, even years later after this bishop had done probably dozens of Priesthood ordinations. That bishop never forgot his first ordinandi, and Bishop Breen would continue that tradition. He ordained a friend of mine, Fr. Guy Selvester, to the Priesthood on September 27, 1997 (the Feast of St. Vincent DePaul), and kept a picture from that ordination for posterity. He said a bishop always remembers the first Priest he ordained.

My first Bishop Breen memory is this: Two of us who would be ordained in 1998, myself and Fr. Paul DaSilva, approached him in the receiving line at the reception at the Pines Manor following his ordination. We introduced ourselves, telling him we were transitional Deacons. Bishop Breen put his arms around us, smiled, and said, "...and you will be my first class? I'm very excited."

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine on him. May he rest in peace.

1 comment:

Joke said...

Incidentally, it's also the feast of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre, Patroness of Cuba. (Double Whammy for Our Lady.)