Christ the King Seminary will be under new leadership when fall classes start up. Father Kevin G. Creagh, CM, now fills the chair of the president/rector of the East Aurora seminary. He replaces Father John Staack, OMI, who had spent eight months as interim president/rector. Father Creagh comes from Niagara University where he served as vice president for International Relations.
An outgoing man who sees business meetings as a way to meet people, Father Creagh's quick with a self-deprecating laugh. After a photo shoot on campus, he tells the photographer to use the "one good photo" of him.
He's eager to take on this new role at seminary. It is his job to oversee the formation of priests and deacons, as well as manage the graduate school. Christ the King offers master of divinity, master of arts in pastoral ministry, master of arts in theology degrees, as well as several certificate programs to prepare students for ministry.
"(My job is) ensuring that the priestly formation program is one of excellence, so that we're developing our seminarians intellectual, spiritual, human and pastoral formation; all those pillars. The Church asks all seminaries to ensure that all seminarians are being developed in those four areas, all at once," Father Creagh said. "Then with the graduate students it is ensuring excellence in all our academic programs, ensuring our students' success, ensuring that all of our lay students are also being formed in the ministry of the Church."
Formation, in his words, is coming to know your relationship with Jesus Christ, to be configured to Christ for ministry, and to be a servant leader.
"Anyone coming to the seminary, whether for ordination or for lay ecclesial ministry, they're coming to be formed as servant leaders of the Church; to be ministerial leaders of the Church, bringing and calling people to a special relationship with Jesus Christ in His Church," he explained. "Ministry is all about service. How do we bring people to know the Lord in a deep and meaningful way; to know of His salvation and His life, death and resurrection; and to serve the people in their need in life."
Two elements of that journey he wants to emphasize are the human pillar and the servant aspect.
Father Creagh said human formation assists seminarians in becoming men of integrity with the personality needed for priestly ministry.
"I want each and every seminarian and student to focus on what it means to be a minister in the Church today," Father Creagh said. "That's so critically important. How does one see him or herself as ministers? Speaking of seminarians, pertaining to seminarians, really looking at that human dimension, really knowing themselves in all that they are - their gifts, their limitations - knowing who they are in their person, loving who they are. If you don't know yourself, you can't give yourself authentically. If you don't know your gifts, you don't know how to utilize your gifts. So, what I want them to really have a feel for is who they are. That human dimension is a critically important dimension today."
As a Vincentian priest, he follows the example set by St. Vincent de Paul in serving the less fortunate. Father Creagh wants to bring back a sense of servant leadership to those at the seminary.
"St. Vincent was deeply committed to the formation of clergy," Father Creagh said. "St. Vincent was all about the Catholic reformation of the Church and saw the clergy as an important dimension, and the ongoing formation of clergy as critically important to the reformation of the Church. I'd love to see that as well for Christ the King to look at how we can be about the newness, the new evangelization that we are called to be, and have that instilled right here at Christ the King Seminary. One of the pieces that was so critically important for St. Vincent and for the reformation, for the Church at his time, was to see Christ in the poor. The way in which we are going to be renewed in the Church was to be renewed in our baptismal calling, and that is by seeing Christ in the poor."
Father Creagh, a second generation Irish-American, was born and raised in Whitestone, Queens. He attended St. John's University, a Vincentian institute in Queens, where he began to understand his vocation.
"I began to see in the Vincentian priests and brothers as men of great prayerfulness, joy and passion in serving their people, especially the poor," he explained. "So, I was incredibly attracted to the Vincentian community when looking at my vocation, my calling to be a priest in the Church."
After a stint in the Marines, he entered Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington where he received a master of divinity degree, and the University of Pennsylvania where he earned a doctoral degree in Higher Education Management and Policy. He was ordained in 1996. His first assignment brought him to Niagara University. He then served in Taiwan missions, then at St. John's, where he was involved in administration, teaching and chaplaincy. He came back to NU in 2011, where he headed up a mission and ministry team, then International Relations. He also served as superior of the local community.
"It was very special for me to be assigned to Niagara because I love university work. I was assigned to teach, to do campus ministry and to do service, and really loved it. What I also loved was working in the Diocese of Buffalo and coming to know the clergy here. I found them to be wonderful priests who really showed me what it means to serve other people. I feel very privileged to have come back in 1996 to the Diocese of Buffalo. It really taught me as a young person at the very beginning of my priesthood how to be a priest."
Father Creagh has been on the board of directors for CKS the last six years and has taught a leadership course at the seminary the past two springs.
"All of my professional training has been in higher education," he said.
Upon making the appointment Bishop Richard J. Malone said,"I have come to know Father Creagh as a faithful, gifted and committed priest and educator. He will provide inspiring leadership as president-rector of Christ the King Seminary. I am grateful to the Vincentian Fathers for sharing him with us."