Christ the King Seminary installed its 27th president and rector marking a "very significant and historic moment" for the East Aurora institution.
On Oct. 26, the seminary staff, students and community welcomed the Very Reverend Kevin G. Creagh, CM, to his new post in the seminary's chapel. Bishop Richard J. Malone called it a "wonderful, joyful new beginning for our seminary."
A full house joined in the installation Mass, which included staff, clergy and family, who watched as various representatives from the seminary presented Father Creagh with the iconic tools of the seminary.
Ralph Jeswald, CKS board of trustees chairperson, presented him with the 1974 charter. "It will be your duty to guide the administration of this institution to the best of your ability so that it may maintain its 162-year tradition of excellence," Jeswald said. "May God be with you as you take on this awesome responsibility."
Michael Sherry, academic dean and assistant professor of Sacred Scripture, presented the Book of Gospels on behalf of the seminary staff. "It will be your duty to be the primary teacher of this community. ... Through your leadership, the faculty will continue its mission of theological and pastoral education," Sherry said.
William Meehan, seminarian studying for the Diocese of Hamilton, Ontario, presented a Cross on behalf of the student population as a symbol of the future ministers of God's Word. "Remember that you are being called to be the spiritual father of us all," he reminded Father Creagh.
Similar to the ordination of priests, Bishop Malone asked Father Creagh if he is willing to carry on the duties to strengthen the mission of the seminary and support vocation efforts in the diocese. The Queens-born Vincentian agreed.
During his homily, Father Creagh thanked everyone for coming, stating that he was "deeply honored, privileged and humbled to be in this new role."
Telling a story of Mother Teresa, he explained that she did not simply work for the poor. She walked with them, accepted their ridicule and abuse.
"I too am poor and I walk with you. I will take the ridicule unto myself. I will even take on bodily harm too because together we are brothers and sisters in the Lord. Together we walk. I don't walk ahead of you. I don't walk behind you. Together we walk," he said.
"I am indeed privileged, I am indeed humbled, and I am indeed grateful to stand before you as this new rector/president. It's an awesome responsibility because I work with incredible people doing awesome things for our awesome God. I thank each and every one of you for welcoming me, and I promise to you that I will do my hardest, I will work tirelessly to be of help in good formation that you the people of God deserve," he continued.
Among the guests were Jim and Ellen Creagh, who traveled from Whitestone, Queens for their son's big day. Although proud of him, rising to such a rank in the Church is a bit of a surprise to the couple. "He was a quiet guy. He wasn't a talker or anything," Ellen Creagh said.
"We're absolutely proud of him," added Jim. "You never know with your son, but other people have told me that he has the qualities to be a good president and maybe a great president. So, I'm very happy, very thrilled."
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. He comes from Niagara University where he served as vice president for International Relations.
A former Marine, 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.
After Mass, Bishop Malone called Father Creagh, the "man for the moment."
"I think he is a very gifted leader, and he has, of course, the Vincentian charism. The Vincentians are committed to the poor and committed to formation and pastoral care of priests," he said. "So, it's a perfect combination of those unique gifts of the Vincentian community."
"He fits the bill," said Kathleen Castillo, director of Field Education. "He's the spitting image of what I was looking for - someone who is really positive; someone who has a vision going forward. He doesn't have an agenda. He just wants excellence. And he loves to see people work well together."