7/10/2012 1:53:00 PM Priest stories: Three Holy Cross men mark anniversaries
Fathers Charles Gordon, David Sherrer
Father Michael DeLaney
Three Holy Cross priests who served in Portland — Fathers David Sherrer, Michael DeLaney and Charles Gordon — are celebrating major anniversaries of their ordination this year. They, along with 19 other members of the Holy Cross U.S. Province of Priests and Brothers – will be honored during a Mass of Thanksgiving May 25 at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.
Father Sherrer is celebrating his 50th anniversary. Born in Marion, Ohio, he attended school at the parish his stonemason grandfather helped build. He joined Holy Cross and went to Notre Dame in 1953, later studying theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He taught English at the University of Portland in 1963-64 before finishing degrees. He returned happily to Portland and joined the English faculty, but soon was named as president of King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He served on many boards, including a statewide association of independent colleges and even a federal commission for the economic development of northeastern Pennsylvania.
Father Sherrer returned to the University of Portland in 1982 and has been there ever since. He served as dean of the graduate school and academic vice president. Eager to return to the classroom before retirement, he began teaching in 1996, offering courses in Shakespeare, Chaucer, Irish writers and history and politics in fiction.
Father DeLaney will be honored for his 25th anniversary. After studying in Brazil as an exchange student, he enrolled in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and hoped for an international career. Meantime, he began discerning a vocation to priesthood.
His senior project at Georgetown was on the Church in Brazil and he had a chance to meet with social justice leader Dom Helder Camara. He was inspired by the church's drive to establish peace and justice.
Father DeLaney served for 15 years in Portland until 2002, part of that time as superior of the Holy Cross community. He also directed the study abroad program in Salzburg.
"It was truly a time of great blessing; the many former students with whom we shared important moments in their lives, their families, the colleagues and friends — so many people come to mind just thinking about it," he writes.
He later was president of a high school in Chicago and is now superior of the community in Chile.
Father Gordon also marks 25 years. Born into Visitation Parish on the south side of Chicago, he recalls a Catholic culture in which for May Crowning, the police closed a street so children could parade. After purporting to be an atheist in high school, he attended Notre Dame and found himself attending weekday Mass and praying the rosary.
After graduation, he landed a job. One day listening to a Notre Dame football game on the radio, he decided to become a priest.
After ordination, his first assignment was as a seminary teacher in Kenya, where Holy Cross vocations were flourishing. He studied at Cambridge during the 1990s and then taught theology at Notre Dame before coming to teach in Portland. He's a frequent speaker at St. Mary Cathedral's adult education program.