fr-cameron-582NEW HAVEN – When the Knights of Columbus wanted to sponsor a play about their organization’s founder, Father Michael J. McGivney, they turned to Dominican Father Peter John Cameron, a Connecticut-born playwright.

He is also the founding editor-in-chief of the monthly prayer aid, Magnificat. And he also just published his seventh book, Mysteries of the Rosary: Living Our Lady’s Graces, on the importance of Mary as seen through the mysteries and feasts of her life.

Author, editor, journalist, playwright, theatrical artistic director, professor of homiletics, preacher, retreat master – the list of Father Cameron’s titles, interests and vocational activities is extensive. The common thread is his vocation.

"My priesthood and my evangelizing … my preaching is first," he said in an interview with The Catholic Transcript.

"I’m a priest so that others can meet Jesus Christ," he said. "I met him and I realized that life doesn’t make sense without him. Every need and longing of our heart has an answer, and he’s the answer. When Christ gazes at you, your life changes. His gaze is on everyone, just waiting for our answer."

An early riser, Father Cameron often uses the predawn hours to write in the priory where he lives with his Dominican community in New Haven. He also uses his time on the train to his office in Yonkers, N.Y., to read, research or write.

"I’ve always loved writing; and when I was given permission [in the seminary] to do a graduate degree in theater, I opted for playwriting," he said. "It was a way to keep my finger in the theater.

He estimates that he’s written and produced about 10 plays through the Blackfriars (a common name for Dominican friars) Repertory Theatre in New York – the first religious theater there and the only professional-level theater sponsored by a Catholic organization in the United States. It has launched the careers of such actors as Patricia Neal, Darren McGavin and Shelley Berman.

Founded in 1940 by Dominican Fathers Urban Nagle and Thomas Carey, it closed in 1972. Father Cameron, who is its artistic director, revived it in 1998.

Of theater, he said, "It’s an attempt to see, find and experience the ultimate purpose of life in a real life experience."

He said there is a beauty about the theater that is "deeply compelling," adding that there are very few occasions when people are "together in one place, united for one reason, agreeing to keep silence together in order to share in the experience.

"Theater reminds you of God," Father Cameron reflected. "To be human is to thirst for the infinite."

He said everything he does, from writing to preaching, is about "the fact that to be human is to be in relationship with the infinite.

"For many people, Jesus Christ is an abstraction," he observed, "but he is flesh and blood. Once people encounter him, they never want to be apart from him."

Born in Providence, R.I., Father Cameron was raised in Vernon with six siblings in a family that belonged to Sacred Heart and St. Bernard parishes. He went to high school at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield.

"Of all my schools I attended, it was my favorite," he said.

"The priests were outstanding, real role models; and the teaching was unbelievably exceptional. I learned my love of Scripture through Father James Leary; my love for theater was generated there; Msgr. Charles Johnson was my Latin teacher, and I learned how to sing from Father Geoff Smith.

Father Smith speaks equally highly of his former student.

"Peter’s a wonderful person and remarkably versatile with a wonderful musical and dramatic sense," recalled Father Smith, who has been a chaplain at Yale-New Haven Hospital for the past 16 years. "I’m so glad that in his priesthood he’s able to really express in such an articulate and beautiful way what he thinks about our faith and the Lord," he noted. "He’s really been encouraged to use his real, authentic talents in the service of the Church."

Father Cameron went on to the Dominicans’ Providence College, where he earned a degree with a double major in theater arts and humanities. Completing theological studies for ordination at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., he also received a master’s degree from The Catholic University of America, where he studied playwriting.

Father Cameron also was a reporter for the National Catholic Register. His writing took a leap forward when Pierre-Marie Dumont, a French layman, tapped him to be the editor of the United States edition of the highly acclaimed Magnificat when it was launched in December 1998.

The monthly worship aid boasts a United States circulation of 230,000. After giving a retreat in Poland on preaching last month, Father Cameron flew to London to take part in discussions about the soon-to-be started edition for the United Kingdom.

Besides his current book on the Blessed Virgin, he has written books about the Sunday Gospels, the Eucharist and preaching.

Father Cameron will talk about and sign his most recent book from 6-8 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Catholic Book Store, located at the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield. A story about Father Cameron’s most recent book appears on this Web site under the Arts and Media tab.

Father Cameron’s spirituality has been shaped in recent years by the writings of Father Luigi Giussani, founder of the Communion and Liberation Movement, which drew him "because my heart was looking for something and I wasn’t finding it until I found the movement. It gave me a new and deeper appreciation for my faith and many wonderful friendships."

From that movement, he came to see that "the heart is a place of decision, of being in encounter with God. It is the facility by which people discover the meaning of life," said Father Cameron.

He also said that the heart is objective. For example, he said, most people "look to the universal human experience for happiness, which brings disappointment. They think, ‘I expected better,’ because their heart told them that there is a greater satisfaction."

But to paraphrase St. Augustine, the heart "won’t rest until it gets it," he said. "And for us, that answer is God … it’s Christ."

 

 

Events Calendar

October 2014
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
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10:00 AM
St. Anthony Parish, prospect, Prospect, United States
St. Anthony Parish in Prospect will again operate its Pumpkin Patch during the month October. It will be open Oct. 4-31, and all proceeds will support the parish's HOPE Ministry, which assists local [...]
Date :  October 04, 2014
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07:30 AM
Anthony's Ocean View, New Haven, New Haven, United States
The Foundation for the Advancement of Catholic Schools (FACS) will host its annual Archbishop’s Columbus [...]
Date :  October 10, 2014
11
08:30 AM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, Hamden, United States
Caritas Christi Center in Hamden will host a contemporary presentation of the discipline of centering prayer as silent communication with God [...]
12:00 PM
152 Litchfield St., Torrington, Torrington, United States
Oktoberfest 2014 will be held to benefit the Torrington Cluster of Roman Catholic Parishes (St. Peter, St. Francis of Assisi, Sacred Heart and St. Mary) from noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 11 at 152 Litchfield St., [...]
Date :  October 11, 2014
12
01:00 PM
Lourdes in Litchfield, Litchfield, United States
Lourdes in Litchfield Shrine will have its annual harvest dinner at 1 p.m. Oct. 12 in Pilgrim Hall. [...]
02:00 PM
Cathedral of St. Joseph, Hartford, Hartford, United States
HARTFORD – The 25th anniversary celebration of the Diocesan Rosary Rally will take place from 2-3:30 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph. Archbishop Leonard P. Blair will give a talk titled [...]
Date :  October 12, 2014
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14
07:00 PM
Chiara Center, Meriden, Meriden, United States
Thomas Finn, Ph.D., will present a six-session educational and psychological workshop designed to help [...]
Date :  October 14, 2014
15
06:00 PM
Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, West Hartford, United States
"Incorporating Prayer into the Classroom Setting: An Evening Workshop for Parish Catechists," will be [...]
06:30 PM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, Hamden, United States
The film 'Places in the Heart' will be shown, discussed and studied from 6:30-9 p.m. Oct. 15 at the [...]
07:00 PM
St. Peter Claver Parish, West Hartford, West Hartford, United States
WEST HARTFORD – The Archdiocese of Hartford’s Office for Catholic Social Justice Ministry (OCSJM) will sponsor a workshop on the need for criminal justice reform at 7 p.m. Oct. 15 at St. Peter Claver [...]
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center, Farmington , Farmington, United States
  On Wednesday, October 15, Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center in Farmington is offering "Autumn [...]
07:00 PM
Most Holy Trinity Church, Wallingford, Wallingford, United States
WALLINGFORD – Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, will give a [...]
09:00 AM
Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center, Farmington , Farmington, United States
  On Wednesday, October 15, Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center in Farmington is offering "Autumn [...]
10:00 AM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, Hamden, United States
"Are You Here for Me, Lord?" a program for the bereaved, will be presented by Sister Mauryeen O'Brien from [...]
Date :  October 15, 2014
16
09:00 AM
Lourdes in Litchfield, Litchfield, United States
Lourdes-in-Litchfield will have its semi-annual tag sale from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 16, 17 and 18 and [...]
Date :  October 16, 2014
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07:00 PM
Sacred Heart Church, Southbury CT, Southbury, United States
Sacred Heart Parish in Southbury and its adult choir music ministry will have a Taize prayer service at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 at the church. Taize is an [...]
Date :  October 17, 2014
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07:00 PM
Academy of the Holy Family, Baltic, Sprague, United States
The Baltic Council of the Knights of Columbus will sponsor a benefit dinner for the Academy of the Holy Family at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 at the academy, located  at 54 West Main Street in Baltic. [...]
07:00 PM
Montfort House, Litchfield, Litchfield, United States
Lourdes-in-Litchfield will have its annual Fine Dining and Wine Pairing fund-raiser from 7-10 p.m. Oct. 18 [...]
08:30 AM
Doubletree by Hilton, Bristol, Bristol, United States
Magnificat for women will have a breakfast at 9 a.m. Oct. 18 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Bristol. Registration opens at 8:30. The speaker will be author Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle.  The [...]
09:00 AM
Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary, Bloomfield, United States
The eighth annual “Unbound: Freedom in Christ Conference” will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield. Based on Neal [...]
09:00 AM
Holy Angels Parish Center, South Meriden, Meriden, United States
Former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson and abortion survivor Gianna Jessen will be the [...]
Date :  October 18, 2014
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01:00 PM
Sacred Heart Academy, Hamden, Hamden, United States
Sacred Heart Academy in Hamden will have an open house from 1-3 p.m. Oct. 19.
01:00 PM
Notre Dame High School, West Haven, West Haven, United States
Notre Dame High Shool will have an open house from 1-3 p.m. Oct. 19.
01:00 PM
Sacred Heart Academy, Hamden CT, Hamden, United States
HAMDEN – Sacred Heart Academy, an independent Catholic college preparatory school for young women in [...]
02:00 PM
Cathedral of St. Joseph, Hartford, United States
Annual anniversary Mass for couples celebrating significan wedding anniversaries.
02:00 PM
St. Mary Star of the Sea Church, Unionville, Farmington, United States
UNIONVILLE –The Legion of Mary of St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish will host a living rosary program in [...]
04:00 PM
St. Justin Church, Hartford, United States
St. Justin Parish will host an Interreligious Harvest Festival at 4 p.m. Oct. 19. Local Catholic and [...]
Date :  October 19, 2014
20
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05:00 PM
Aqua Turf Club, Plantsville, Southington, United States
The Office for Catholic Social Justice Ministry (OCSJM) will present awards for exceptional efforts in social justice ministry at its annual dinner Oct. 21 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville. It [...]
05:00 PM
Aqua Turf Club, Plantsville, Southington, United States
Click here
07:00 PM
Caritas Christi Center, Hamden, United States
"How to Live an Inspired Life and Inspire Others" is the title of a workshop schuled for 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at [...]
07:00 PM
Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center, Farmington, Farmington, United States
Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center will offer a program entitled "Returning to the Church of My Youth" presented by Deacon Art Miller.  Deacon Miller will share his reflections on the [...]
07:00 PM
Chiara Center, Meriden, Meriden, United States
Thomas Finn, Ph.D., will present a six-session educational and psychological workshop designed to help [...]
09:00 AM
Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center, Farmington, Farmington, United States
Our Lady of Calvary Retreat Center will offer a program entitled "Returning to the Church of My Youth" presented by Deacon Art Miller.  Deacon Miller will share his reflections on the [...]
Date :  October 21, 2014
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07:00 PM
Holy Spirit Parish in Newington, Newington, United States
Holy Spirit Parish in Newington will host a concert by Elisabeth von Trapp, granddaughter of the legendary Maria and Baron von Trapp, whose story inspired “The Sound of Music,” at 7 p.m. Oct. 24.Ms. [...]
12:00 AM
Lourdes in Litchfield, Litchfield, United States
Lourdes-in-Litchfield will have its semi-annual tag sale from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 16, 17 and 18 and [...]
Date :  October 24, 2014
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08:00 AM
Goodwin College, East Hartford , East Hartford, United States
EAST HARTFORD – International Catholic speaker, author and radio host Jon Leonetti will be the keynote [...]
08:00 AM
Notre Dame High School, West Haven, West Haven, United States
Notre Dame High School admissions test
Date :  October 25, 2014
26
01:00 PM
Xavier High School, Middletown, Middletown, United States
Open house at Xavier High School in Middletown for young men in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
Date :  October 26, 2014
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06:00 PM
Infinity Hall, Hartford, Hartford, United States
HARTFORD – Malta House of Care will sponsor a new fund-raising event at a new venue in October. “A Little Night Music Under the Stars” will be held from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 28 at Infinity Music Hall and [...]
07:00 PM
Chiara Center, Meriden, Meriden, United States
Thomas Finn, Ph.D., will present a six-session educational and psychological workshop designed to help [...]
Date :  October 28, 2014
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12:00 AM
Holy Family Retreat Center, West Hartford, West Hartford, United States
Holy Family Retreat Center will present "From Control to Compassion," a weekend retreat for men and women with Father Michael Crosby, Oct 31-Nov 2. It wil explore the causes and consequences [...]
Date :  October 31, 2014

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