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SMC hires two Holy Cross priests

Lisa Gallagher | Thursday, August 25, 2005

Freshmen are not the only new faces on the Saint Mary’s campus this fall.

Orientation weekend provided students with their first opportunity to meet and spend time with the College’s newest additions to Campus Ministry, Father Charles “Charlie” Gordon and Father Randall “Randy” Rentner.

“Both [Gordon and Rentner] are Holy Cross priests, and it’s really exciting to have the Holy Cross priests be a part of the life here of the students,” said Director of Campus Ministry Judith Fean.

The two men are replacing Father Joseph Carey, also a Holy Cross priest, who ministered to the College for five years before announcing his retirement from the position last April.

Gordon said he was approached about the opportunity by his provincial superior, the person in charge of the Congregation of the Holy Cross (CSC).

“Since the very beginning of the CSC, the tradition has been that we participate in one another’s apostolics,” Gordon said, referring to the relationship between the brothers, sisters and priests of the CSC. For this reason, Gordon applied and accepted the position.

Hiring two priests instead of one was a move unexpected by members of the College community. However, Fean said the choice was a good one for this year, and the men will be dividing the responsibilities of the position equally.

“For this year we are very excited to have [both Rentner and Gordon]. We’re going to look at how this year pans out and move from there as time goes on,” Fean said. “They agreed to split up the masses and special liturgies; we have parent weekends like Sophomore Parent Weekend, Junior Moms, etc. So we’ll be having a diversity of priests able to celebrate with our community.”

Fean stressed the College will continue to maintain the same Mass schedule as last year, so the same opportunities will be available to students.

In addition to Mass, confession and Eucharistic admiration, Carey’s duties on campus included leading a Bible study session called “Breaking Open the Word,” which helped prepare students for the upcoming liturgy, and serving as campus liaison to Holy Cross and Annunciata halls. The latter tradition will no longer continue, Fean said.

“Anyone from any residence hall can ask anyone in Campus Ministry to work with them in collaboration with enhancing the faith life and spiritual life in the halls,” she said.

As for the liturgy preparation Carey’s Bible study provided for students, each of the Saint Mary’s campus ministers will share responsibility in leading it.

“Our hope … is to enable our peer ministry, our students here, to be able to [be Eucharistic ministers, preachers and lead prayer services] because they can do that in their parishes upon graduation,” Fean said.

Divvying duties may lessen the burden on the two priests, who both have full-time commitments to Notre Dame as well as Saint Mary’s. Gordon is a professor of theology at the University, while Rentner is a student completing his doctoral dissertation in education personnel. He recently moved back to the South Bend area from New York to attend Notre Dame.

Rentner said he does not think his responsibilities as a priest at Saint Mary’s and his commitment as a Notre Dame student will be a difficult balance to maintain.

“I see myself as being part of the balance,” he said.

Fean said Campus Ministry staff – including another new member, Minister Regina Wilson – and the entire Saint Mary’s community are excited and thankful these priests have offered their services to the College.

“[We] look forward to how this evolves,” Fean said. “That doesn’t mean that some point down the road we might not have a full-time [priest].”

The two priests are looking forward to working with the students in the upcoming year, Gordon said.

“I was very impressed by the amount of background [each student possessed] with their faith and their level of enthusiasm for participating in Campus Ministry,” he said.

While most students were sad to see Carey leave, they also look forward to this new beginning and getting to know the new ministers.

“It’s hard for someone to replace Father Joe, but I was very impressed with Father Randy,” junior Rosemary Walsh said after attending Sunday’s Mass. “He seems to be a great fit for Saint Mary’s, and his homily was pertinent. I am looking forward to getting to know and spending time with Father Randy on my faith journey.”