BLOOMFIELD – An inaugural, all-inclusive reunion of former seminarians, day students and faculty of St. Thomas Seminary will be held May 2 at what is now called the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary.
Msgr. Gerard G. Schmitz, rector/president of St. Thomas Seminary, an alumnus and planning committee member, said in a press release, “This reunion will be a grand occasion to celebrate the greatness that took place within the walls of this iconic structure when it was an educational institution and served so many students. Great work continues to be produced from there today from the offices of two dozen Archdiocesan agencies that serve thousands of people throughout our Archdiocese.”
Mike Marinaccio, a 1968 graduate who is on the committee, described the reunion idea as “the nexus of the right thing at the right time in many ways” when it started taking shape last spring.
Organizers say that response to advance publicity has been very favorable. Registrations also are helping the seminary to digitally update its files on graduates, which currently exist on index cards.
Former classmates who listen to archdiocesan radio station WJMJ might recognize the voice of Bill MacDonnell, ’68, promoting the reunion. On the air he says, “It’s time to dust off your Stella yearbooks, take out the old uniforms, rekindle those teenage memories and save the date.”
Mr. MacDonnell, a dentist anesthesiologist, says that some of his fondest memories are of his days attending the seminary and that he credits his success to the education he received there.
The class of 1968 is also represented on the committee by Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter A. Rosazza, who, after graduating from the seminary, taught English there for many years. He says of his time at St. Thomas, “These were some of the most fruitful years of my priesthood.”
Another 1968 alumnus and committee member, Msgr. Daniel J. Plocharczyk, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in New Britain, spoke fondly of student days at the seminary, calling them a “heyday for St. Thomas,” with priests in every suite and a student in every room of the four dormitories. He wistfully talked about the years when classrooms and hallways bustled and playing fields resounded with sports activities.
Msgr. Plocharczyk talked about what he thought some reunion attendees might remember. The food might well be a topic, and he said, laughing, “I’d give it one star, if you’re lucky.” He described a typical refectory meal when, after prayers, 10 or 11 hungry boys would be served 10 or 11 hot dogs.
“Needless to say, the meal was over in a hurry and, after closing prayers, everybody would quickly head down to the Tumble Inn, where we could buy some normal food and use one of the two public phones in the basement.”
Like many former classmates, Mr. Marinaccio and Msgr. Plocharczyk have remained friends through the years, though their vocations have taken different paths. Mr. Marinaccio pointed out that the two are celebrating milestones this year, his own marking 40 years of marriage and Msgr. Plocharczyk’s 40 years as a priest.
Theirs is a friendship consistent with the history of the seminary. Its goal since its founding, as stated on the website of the archdiocesan center, has been “the formation of candidates for ministry in the Church as priests, deacons and lay ministers.”
The event also is open to spouses and other family members. Registrations are being taken online at saintthomasseminaryreunion.eventbrite.com or by check, payable to St. Thomas Seminary, mailed to: Sandra Moore, Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary, 467 Bloomfield Ave., Bloomfield, CT 06002. Mailed registrations should include name, postal mail and email address and phone number. The cost is $50 each.
Festivities will start at 2 p.m. in the main entry, where artifacts, vestments and photos will display a chronology of seminary history to highlight the day’s spiritual and social activities.
From 2 to 4, current seminarians will offer tours of the library and administrative, residential and hospitality areas now comprising the archdiocesan center. Mass will be celebrated at 4 in the chapel.
A reception from 5-6:30 will precede dinner at 6:30.
The after-dinner program is designed to be entertaining, cross-generational and historic, organizers said.