Retirement? Not just yet for seminary booster Msgr. Callaghan

| August 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan continues to serve at The St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, after working as its rector from 2005 to 2018. DAVE HRBACEK | THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT

Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan willingly and gracefully handed over the role as rector of The St. Paul Seminary to Father Joseph Taphorn in 2018. But, he is working as passionately as ever to help an institution he led for 13 years continue forming priests to serve the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

He still has an office in the building, personalized by pictures of bishops he has served during his nearly five decades of priesthood, plus a stuffed dog given to him by Archbishop Harry Flynn, who brought him on board in 2005, and with whom Msgr. Callaghan had a deep friendship until the archbishop’s death in September 2019.

“Archbishop Flynn was my hero,” said Msgr. Callaghan, who will turn 74 Sept. 15. “He’d light up a room. And, I’ve always said — and I say it today — I never was with him at any time that I didn’t walk away feeling just better. I so admired him.”

That inspiration continues to drive Msgr. Callaghan into passionate service of the archdiocese. Now, he works in community relations and advancement for the seminary, and would be in his second year going to Rome with seminarians of St. John Vianney College Seminary at the University of St. Thomas — except the fall semester at the Pontifical Irish College, where the students live, was canceled because of COVID-19. He is hopeful that the program will resume during the spring semester, and that he then could go to Rome with the seminarians.

In the meantime, in addition to his seminary duties, he is serving at two parishes in the western part of the archdiocese: St. Timothy in Maple Lake and St. Ignatius in Annandale. He lives at the rectory at St. Timothy, and was quarantined there in May after he and two priests who serve at the two parishes, Father John Meyer, pastor, and Father Andrew Stueve, parochial vicar, tested positive for COVID-19.

Fortunately, no one became seriously ill. Msgr. Callaghan said he “had a raspy throat, runny nose, some fever, some nausea” and fatigue.

“We called ourselves the ‘corona kids,’” he said, in reference to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. “I said we won the trifecta because three of us got it at one time.”

As the priests lived isolated during the month of May, they came up with the idea of doing a weekly video that they call “From a Distance.” Father Meyer, who was ordained in 2008 and was in formation at the seminary while Msgr. Callaghan was rector, teams up with Msgr. Callaghan to give parish updates, answer questions people send in, and bring in guests to talk about a particular topic or ministry. The format is similar to what Msgr. Callaghan calls a “fireside chat.”

Doing this and other types of parish ministry “keeps me active, which I like to be,” Msgr. Callaghan said.

He also finds great fulfillment in his continued involvement at the seminary. At one time, he supervised Tom Ryan, longtime vice president for institutional advancement. Now, they work side by side, with Msgr. Callaghan using his charismatic personality and joyful demeanor to promote the seminary and help in fundraising. Once the pandemic ends, he plans to speak to groups about a seminary whose theme “Joyful Catholic Leaders” is written on his heart.

“My 13 years as rector… gave me life,” Msgr. Callaghan said. “I loved every minute of it. I told Father Taphorn (about the transition to being rector emeritus), ‘Well, I’m going from being father to grandfather.’”

And, this “grandfather” looks back with pride on how the seminary has benefited the local Church.

“In my time here, we had about 74 priests ordained for this archdiocese, and maybe a hundred and seventy-some altogether,” he said. “I told the archbishop, ‘You can be proud of our men.’ … I think they’re doing wonderful work, and they’re excited about being priests.”

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