Sunday, June 10
By Fr. Tom Hurley
I was 18 years old when I entered the college seminary for the Archdiocese. It was late August of 1985 and my mom and dad were ready to drive me to the north side suburb of Niles so that I could formally begin my journey of discernment for the priesthood. Like many significant days in our lives, this is one that I remember vividly, like it was yesterday. I can recall loading our Ford station wagon that was parked in our driveway on a hot, humid August afternoon. The game plan was to drive north, unpack the car, move in to my seminary dorm room, and then be ready for a welcoming mass and parent orientation. As we made our way on the Dan Ryan expressway, I could feel my anxiety coming on stronger: what am I doing? Is this the right thing? Should I be at another “normal” college?
As we pulled in to the driveway of the very small campus of Niles College Seminary of Loyola University that used to be located at Harlem and Touhy (it no longer exists!), I could see the dark clouds moving in from the west. Not a good combination on an already stressful day. After we pulled the station wagon into the necessary parking lot and I checked in at the front desk of the seminary dorm, I came back outside and began the process of moving my personal things onto a cart and into the hallway where a freight elevator was waiting. Just as the process started, the heavens opened up and an afternoon thunderstorm hovered overhead dumping rain, full force.
Frustrated, angry, moving fast, running out of time, getting wet, trying to protect my items, intimidated by being there in the first place, I made a trip from the car into the building and upon entering with another load, I tripped, fell, dropped items and then let out an expletive that was not very becoming of a young man starting the seminary! As I looked up, continuing to swear, I noticed right away that a man in black pants had just entered the same hallway. Whoever it was definitely heard me and my foul mouth. Much to my chagrin, the man now standing over me was none-other-than Father Bob McLaughlin, the Rector of the seminary. Uh oh, I thought, this is not a good way to begin our relationship. Expecting perhaps a word of correction for my vile language, I looked up and the only thing I saw was a man, shorter in stature, in a Roman Collar standing there with a smile. “Welcome to the seminary, son.” He laughed which allowed me to laugh a little and get out a sheepish “sorry Father.” And the rest is history.
Fr. Bob McLaughlin was one of the finest priests Chicago has ever known. Having served as rector of the seminary, pastor at Holy Name Cathedral and Mary Seat of Wisdom Parish, he died suddenly around 13 years ago at a young age while golfing in Florida. Bob was a great teacher, magnificent preacher, and a huge cheerleader for young adults and the next generation. His loyal friends put together an annual golf outing and dinner after his passing in order to both remember Bob and raise some funds in order to make some grants to particular missions around the Archdiocese of Chicago that help form the next generation. If you’re free on Monday June 18th, come join the fun in Park Ridge.
Father Tom Hurley