Celebrating 2017 Jubilarians

Celebrating 2017 Jubilarians

2017 marks 50 years of religious profession and ordination for Bro. Larry Atkinson, CSC, Bro. Tom Dziekan, CSC, and Fr. Robert DeLeon, CSC. In between two jubilee celebrations held in April in Austin, Tex., and Valatie, N.Y., the brothers and priest spoke about their milestone anniversaries, the many blessings of their diverse ministries and their future hopes for religions vocations in the Congregation of Holy Cross.

Bro. Larry Atkinson, CSC, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry, St. Edward’s University

Bro. Larry Atkinson, CSC

You celebrate your jubilee this week. What’s been foremost on your mind? The speed of life. Could this really be 50 years? It seems like yesterday [since I professed vows]. I realize you have to appreciate the moments you have because it slides by so quickly. It’s taught me to live in the moment and to appreciate the opportunities I have in this moment.

The Moreau House Collegiate Program you began with Bro. Michael Winslow, CSC, is coming to an end at St. Edward’s. What has this ministry meant to you? It means the world to me. I was able to bring together my community and experience in Holy Cross and share it with young people who are willing to share a similar lifestyle of being unvowed. It certainly seemed to reach a need for young men who wanted to live a fraternal lifestyle with meaning and purpose. We didn’t start out with lofty goals, but after 17½ years the “Moreau men” became ambassadors for Holy Cross and the brothers.

How do you feel about the future of religious vocations? I’m hopeful. Even though there is a diminishment of Holy Cross in North America, especially for the brothers, I’m hopeful as I look at the number of ordinations and professed vows in the developing world where it’s more needed. I’m hopeful that it will do the same good that it’s done for the last 100 years or more.

Bro. Tom Dziekan, CSC

Bro. Tom Dziekan, CSC

What does this jubilee mean to you? The meaning is just profound. I can’t believe it’s been 50 years. Being presented with opportunities for service in so many wonderful ways and surprising places, it leads me to be thankful for the gift that God has given me. When I entered religious life, it was a very different world. The vocation was known and understood. Fast forward 50 years, our numbers are smaller, we’re older and people don’t understand the vocation of brother. Yet, here I am. I love what I do. I love the role of brother. I see it as a very important witness to the world.

You’ve witnessed many changes. What hasn’t changed? The goodness of people and their desire to be good and to search for ways to express that goodness. That is eternal.

You served as Vicar General in Rome for six years. What did that opportunity allow you to do? It allowed me to meet Holy Cross members throughout the world in a very real way. I was able to meet my brothers and priests in community in some harsh, simple and beautiful situations. We are called to assist others in their search for God. Whether it was in Northern India or Uganda, I was able to witness how members of my Holy Cross family did that. It was a real privilege to do that.

Anything else you would like to tell us about your 50-year milestone? For half of these 50 years I was a teacher or administrator in Holy Cross schools. One of the most meaningful things we do is our involvement in the education of youth and our sponsorship of schools. They provide an opportunity for people to discover and express their faith in real ways. Even though our presence in schools isn’t what it once was, the effect we have is significant and important.

Fr. Robert DeLeon, CSC

Fr. Robert DeLeon, CSC

What do you think as you look back on 50 years in Holy Cross? It’s amazing to look back and see how God has guided my journey. I’ve had a very happy life in Holy Cross. It’s been far more God’s doing than my own.

You took a very interesting path, first as a brother and now a priest. My earliest recollection from the age of four or five was a desire to be a priest. As far back as I can remember it seems I was chosen for this life. My parents went to Vincentian High School in Albany and so did I. By the grace of God, I had a job every day after school working for the brothers and really go to know them and see what their life was like. I became a brother and taught in Holy Cross schools for 10 years.

During the summers, I was training in hospital chaplaincy and was totally captivated by the work in the hospital and wanted to do more of it. In a meeting with my spiritual director, I told her, “I think God wants me to do hospital ministry.” I needed to be ordained to be a priest to be able to give the sacraments. And the earlier yearnings to be a priest, that all came back to me. So, I was a brother for 18 years and a priest for the last 32 years.

Tell us about your ministry today. I’ve been back in Albany for 15 years now. It’s real interesting, it’s like my life has come full circle. I’m a chaplain full-time at Albany Medical Center and I’m here at St. Joseph Center with 35 Brothers whom I’ve known all my life. I serve the Brothers as chaplain working with them and for them as their priest.