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Supporters gather for annual Blessed John Seminary Lawn Party

By Jim Lockwood
Posted: 10/2/2009

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The rector of Blessed John XXIII Father Peter Uglietto and Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley greet guests at the seminary’s annual Lawn Party. Pilot photo/ Robea Patrowicz

WESTON -- On Sept. 23, friends of Blessed John XXIII National Seminary gathered with its seminarians, alumni, local clergy, the bishops of the other three Massachusetts dioceses, and Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley for the 28th annual Lawn Party. The event was attended by 350 guests, 60 seminarians, and about a dozen current and past faculty members.

The Lawn Party gave those present the opportunity to celebrate the mission and work of the seminary, which prepares men ages 30 to 60 from dioceses nationwide for the priesthood. Donors had the chance to personally meet seminarians, and the seminarians were able to personally thank the donors who support their studies.

This year, the dinner raised a record-setting $220,000, according to event co-chairman John LaRossa.

The welcoming remarks were given by LaRossa, who chaired the event along with his wife Gretchen. Attendees also heard from seminary rector Father Peter Uglietto and seminarians Guy Sciacca of the Archdiocese of Boston and Ronald Cattany from the Archdiocese of Denver. The keynote address was given by Cardinal O’Malley.

“Your presence here tonight is one more indication of your love of the priesthood, which Jesus gave us at the Last Supper,” said the cardinal. “I always say Jesus was running a second-career, three-year seminary for the apostles and he was very successful.”

Father Uglietto spoke of the national character of the seminary, noting that this year Blessed John XXIII welcomed 19 new seminarians from 14 different dioceses. Currently, the seminary enrolls men from 34 dioceses and three religious communities.

The speaking program concluded with personal remarks from seminarians Sciacca and Cattany.

Sciacca, from Medford, is the president of the Class of 2010.

“A vocation is fostered and nourished in the family,” he said. “A community is a group of people coming together, sharing a common goal or interest. We at Blessed John XXIII are a community. On a smaller scale, we at Blessed John XXIII are a family.”

“We support one another. We are concerned for one another,” Sciacca continued. “We come from different parts of the country, and have different ways of doing things. We all have the same love for Jesus.”

Sciacca, who is preparing for the diaconate, came to the seminary after a career in financial administration. He worked for over 16 years at Harvard University managing private and federal grants in the university’s physics department and School of Public Health.

“The calling was always there when I was a young boy,” he said in an interview with The Pilot prior to the dinner. “Life happens. Other things get in the way. Sooner or later, the Lord says, you’ve had your fun and it’s time for some more fun.”

He was formerly a Dominican novitiate in Cincinnati and Washington, D.C.

Prior to his arrival at Blessed John XXIII, Cattany, 55, served as the Director of the Department of Natural Resources for the state of Colorado. He was an advisor to the past four governors of that state, and chaired the state’s Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization. For the past two years, he has also been a caregiver to his parents.

For Cattany, the discernment period began five years ago.

“I learned that the Lord listens to our prayers and answers our prayers if we listen because the answer may not be what we are expecting,” Cattany said. “During my discernment, I learned God has a perfect plan for our lives.”

The seminarians also publicly thanked their supporters.

“A religious vocation is a gift from God,” Cattany said. “A good seminary is not possible without your support.”