It has been 50 years of community, formation and lifelong friendships.
The first graduating class of Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception in Douglaston celebrated its 50th anniversary on June 8. The reunion included Pentecost Mass at the Immaculate Conception Center, followed by a dinner reception.
The class had 78 graduates, 38 of whom became priests, including 22 in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
At the Mass, Father Bruce Powers, a 1969 graduate, reflected during the homily on his time at Cathedral College.
“The class of 1969 has truly enriched the world and our Church. This campus has been our primary place of learning and friendship; this place and other Catholic schools like it,” Father Powers said.
“We remember these important formative years and are deeply grateful for our faculty, who made a profound impact on our journey through adolescence. We carry them with us. It is fitting for us to call them into mind in this Mass, in great gratitude, with profound respect, in love and admiration, we treasure these loved ones,” he said.
Albany Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, also a member of the class of 1969, was the main clelebrant at the Mass.
“When I’m back here, it’s really like 50 years have not passed – there’s something about this place, this experience, that has left an impression spiritually on our hearts. Being with the people that are here, our class, our dedicated faculty members who gave us lifelong values… we haven’t lost our idealism.”
He recalled his involvement in the school’s arts program, performing in the choir and in plays like “Man of La Mancha.”
“We had a really well-rounded education. Even though we recognized we were different, by and large, we really learned from one another. To this day, I can think back on many of my classmates who left specific impressions on me that changed my own life.”
The college was established in 1967 by New York Archbishop Bryan J. McEntegart as a four-year college seminary serving the dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre and the Archdiocese of New York.
With dormitory-style housing, the all-male college had almost 400 students at one point, and offered bachelor’s degrees in philosophy, psychology and theology. In 1987, it became the Cathedral Seminary House of Formation, a place where men considering the priesthood can live while they attend college elsewhere.
The Diocese of Brooklyn also operates Cathedral Preparatory School and Seminary in Elmhurst, which is the only full-time day seminary high school in the country.
Father Robert Lauder, who lives at the Cathedral House and writes a column for The Tablet, reminisced about his time as a professor of philosophy at the school.
“Everything was new, even I was new, and they were the first graduating class,” he said. “Very bright, great energy students. One of the outstanding things was the theater program here… It was a close-knit community.”
At the dinner, Ken Lombardi and Michael Carr recalled their time at the school as former roommates.
“There are many memories here,” Lombardi said. “I think about the people who are in our class who have passed away, and so I remember them – it’s difficult to me. These are my brothers.”
Thirteen members of the class of 1969 are deceased.
“We were the baby boomers,” Carr added. “They told us that many of us would become priests; we didn’t believe them. Our professors said, what we go through here, we could end up as leaders in the community. And look at us now – a newspaper editor, a lawyer, a psychologist. This experience at Cathedral College has been just transformative.”
Quoting “Man of La Mancha” in his homily, Father Powers said, “The memories of the class of 1969 have dreamed the impossible dream, followed our star. We have run the race, we have kept the faith.”