Jeremiah O'Fihelly - Family Feast memories

Ah, yes--Family Feast.  Takes me back to HIGH SCHOOL, 1956-1958, at Divine Word Seminary, known locally as Miramar, and formerly for decades as St. Francis Xavier Mission House.

First, it was a day off from classes.Monk's Hill.jpg

After 6AM Mass and breakfast, we'd pack a lunch, and head out for a hike through downtown Kingston for a mile or three, turn right at Brook Street along Jones River, then soon veer left as the land began to steepen for another mile or two through mostly forest until breaking out from the maples, birch, scrub oak, pines, and bayberry bushes into the clearing at the base of the forest fire watch tower atop Monk's Hill.  (I'm thinking that tall tower might have been a CCC project before WWII).  

I don't recall that the watch tower was ever manned (might not have been wildfire season the few times we hiked there), but we usually climbed three or four flights of tower stairs as far as the locked hatch in the floor of the cab.  On a clear, beautiful fall day, we could see the panorama of southeast Massachusetts almost to Boston 40 miles north, then west to Carver, south 20 miles to see the tops of the Bourne and Sagamore bridges over Cape Cod Canal, then southeast over the horizon (at 13 miles) across Cape Cod Bay to see the upper portion of the Pilgrim Monument at Provincetown, probably 25 or 30 miles away on the tip of the Cape, 70 miles away by road.

I'll always recall the beauty of the autumn leaves, and the aroma of the leaves already fallen to the ground.

Then the hike back to Miramar in time for for supper at 6PM.

All students did daily chores as scheduled.  Imagine my surprise, as a freshman assigned to clear the supper dishes from the Fathers' and Brothers' dining rooms to the dishwasher in the kitchen--on Family Feast, there were empty beer bottles on the long , community table in each dining refectory.

Although our beloved order forbade tobacco, we were, after all, a German order, with a beer authorized for each adult at Family Feast!  (I seem to recall an alternative translation of SVD, probably not politically correct today.)

When Miramar became Divine Word College in 1958, we high school students were transferred to Divine Word Seminary, formerly St. Joseph Mission House, in Bordentown, NJ.

On Family Feast, we were playing baseball.  Seated on the bench cheering us on was Bishop Joseph Bernarding, SVD, newly ordained for the Diocese of Wewak, New Guinea, to replace Bishop Leo Arkfeld, SVD.  Bishop Bernarding was visiting all our US Houses, perhaps raising funds, enroute back to New Guinea.

Never a great athlete, I somehow made it to first base.  Suddenly, from the bench, I heard the new bishop shout excitedly, "Steal, Kid, steal!"  Ever obedient, I ran as fast as I could toward second, but was tagged out.

Bishop George Bernarding SVD standing with two other SVD priests
Fr. Joseph Bisson, SVD, Bishop George Bernarding, SVD and Fr. William Ross, SVD

After graduating HS at Bordentown in 1960, we returned to Miramar, by then Divine Word College, that fall.  I do not recall how we celebrated Family Feast, 1960.

Have a wonderful Family Feast, 2021! 

Formed in the Divine Word, 1956-1961,
Jeremiah O'Fihelly
Office of Canonical and Tribunal Services, Diocese of Austin, TX