September 21, 2011

Reunion Reflections

This page will be for blogging your reflections.


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Dave McBride on September 7, 2015 9:10 AM
Not sure anyone still checks this blog but wondere what happend with Camp Brisson? Order needed the money or could no longer stafff the camp? Saw Kevin McGonigal's pic, does anyone know what he is doing now? Did he get ordained or not?
Kevin McGonigal on May 26, 2019 11:17 AM
Kevin, here. No, I left the Oblates in 1968. Still in comtact with Ray McCracken. I remember you fondly, Dave.
Jim Murphy on November 23, 2018 6:58 PM
I was on staff at the opening of Camp Brisson, summer '62-63. Great leaders including Fathers Foley, Butler, and McGoldrick. Dave Hagen and I initiated the canoe trips. We all drove the war surplus Jeep, and the beach rules were just beginning. At the end I was transferred to North, my fond wish.

Jim Murphy on April 26, 2013 7:15 PM
We lost a great pal and raconteur. May Arthur rest in peace!  Murph

Jim Murphy on November 13, 2011 5:54 PM

Ideally I’d like this little OSFS necrology to be a collective effort.  I’m almost finished at 100 pages, (I’ll go no further), and it’s just me.  Now I haven’t extended myself but I’ll do so now.  I am gathering sketches of Lost Friends, as listed on this site.  If you have a favorite or old enemy, get in touch with me at  I can only remember about a third of those listed but my experiences were mostly brief.  If you have any sketches, send them to me and I’ll ascribe the story to you.  Xosfs too.  Murph


Neil Desmond on October 4, 2011 12:28 PM
I was a counselor at Camp Brisson in 69 and 70.  I taught athletics and swimming and had one of the older cabins that you were working you way up to.  It is nice to hear of your good memories. 
Neil Desmond
Don Swadey on October 21, 2011 2:58 PM
Hi Neil,
     I spent a lot of time down at the water. From minnow to sunfish to shark, I use to love that floating pier in the shark area. I remember the smell of the alcohol being squirted in our ears before we went swimming. The tag we had to check in and out with. I still have a pith helmut that was given to me by a priest. I will probably get the spelling wrong but I think his name was Father Schwoda, big guy with blonde hair. I went on a lot of hikes with the nature den people through the swamp on the other side of the canoe area. I wasn't real involved in the sports but I did hike a lot with the nature den people and won a few first place ribbons there. Wasn't it Brother Joe in charge, a real big guy. To this day I am still into nature, I have a place out in the middle of nowhwere Cameron County,PA. We had a few repeat campers, I remember a kid named Chucky Sweeney from Philadelphia that I would see every summer. Do you remember Felix Cartegenia? He shared a few pictures with me a few years ago, he is the kite guy here in Delaware. If you have any pictures from those years I would love to see them. As I wrote everything is changed there now. Take care and thanks for letting me share some memories with you and this site.
Donald Swadey
Chuck Sweeney on November 17, 2018 4:53 AM
Found this blog while Googling ‘Camp Brisson’. Not sure if it’s active anymore. I was a camper from 1967-193, then did one summer as a CIT. I think I met every Oblate that ever was in my time there. Great summers with so many great memories. Fr. Beatty, Brother Larry, Fr. Shannon, the quonset hut, all of the sailboats, outboards, rowboats, canoes,waterskiing, arts and crafts, that giant ball that was 10X the size of most of us, benediction with incense after Visiting Sunday, morning inspections, the candy hut, the ticket books to purchase whatever, the baby bottle ear drops with alcohol before swimming, the “buddy system”, that horn that blasted to buddy up, canoe overnights at Turkey Point, campfires, olympics, movie night, and Award Night. The list goes on.....
Jim Behan on November 18, 2018 3:52 PM
I remember you from Camp Brisson. I was the infirmarian I believe it was 66-68 or there abouts. there was many a time I administered the bably bottles of alcohol and took campers to Doc Lanzi for ear aches. Ah memories.
JIm Behan osfs
Frank DeMilde on November 17, 2018 10:52 AM
Hi again Chuck,
Tom Vadden informed me that his niece created a Facebook site called, "Friends of Camp Brisson."
Frank DeMilde on November 17, 2018 9:31 AM
Hi Chuck,
Glad you found the blog! Thanks for the memories of camp. Many Oblates and exoblates will appreciate reading this.

Jim Murphy on October 2, 2011 5:00 PM
 Dear Phillip,

Of all the xosfs you were the most stunning in your love of the Oblates.  The youngest attendee.   God, you knew more than me!  That’s a compliment.  Thanks for your presence and the note on the blog.   I think another reunion is in the works.  Murph  


Phil Cerrato on October 2, 2011 1:02 PM

Tom Hallan and I have taken a few sojourns West in our days as Oblates.  We were always welcomed as brothers on our stops from Toledo to Salt Lake made to feel instantly at home.  We decided to take another journey since leaving the Oblates and priesthood to follow another call.  I had entered in '73, ordained in '81 and would not know many of the guys from the West.  But I also knew that we shared a common bond of spirituality and a heritage of old tales from Childs, Camp Brisson, North, Judge or De Sales Hall.  We also shared the lived experience of our struggles and triumphs since leaving religious life behind and choosing other roads less traveled.  I/we left not so much to reject the OSFS as to follow my/our own spirit-guides to where I/we believed I/we were called. 

We were made to feel at home again.  Old names were placed with new faces that had faded from memory. The old bonds of fellowship came to life again.  I had realized that I missed the fellowship of other men who shared a common life and who worked in the vineyard of ministry toward a common purpose.  I was edified by the love and  tenderness shared among those who knew each other years ago.  And I was grateful to see others from the East.  When I heard the voices, the accents of other men from Philly I knew I was among kindred spirits.

We stayed up late, lingered longer over the dinner table not just to catch-up but to connect or reconnect.  I was impressed that Ken McKenna took the time to really be with us.  Not only did he cook for us.  He also fed our desire to reconnect when he answered questions about Oblate formation for a new century.  I got goose bumps inside and thought that this was what religious life was supposed to be like after the Council. 

Then we began to discuss what we had been doing with our lives and the education with which we had been gifted these many years.  It was no surprise that many (if not most) of us were in helping professions of one form or another.  While proud of who we had been as OSFS we were equally proud of who we had become and the lives that have been enhanced by us, our wives, our families, our work and our friendships.  The only bit of sadness came when I thought of the opportunity the Order has lost by not having such talented and gifted men involved in some adjunct manner in it's current life and ministry.

I am grateful for the opportunity to share my own reflections and know that the next time we meet, others will feel just as welcomed, just as valued, just as loved.
Philip Cerrato

Ray McCracken on October 4, 2011 4:31 PM
Phi: What a great post! Thank you, thank you, Ray
Ron Kotz on October 8, 2011 12:45 PM
Thanks for your thoughts...  you're one of the generation that followed mine and I was really glad to meet you at the reunion.  I think you're pointing in a new direction for a form of community that could be very fulfilling for the Wild Geese. 


Donald Swadey on September 28, 2011 6:23 PM
Hi guys,
    I found your site by accident looking up Camp Brisson. I was a camper there from 1966 to 1972 and have many great memories. I started at Chesapeake 1 and worked my way up to Elk 4, I never made it up the hill with the big boys. I really enjoyed looking at what pictures you had of Brisson and would love to see more. Maybe you have enough to make a slide show. Does anyone know if there is anything at Childs or Kentmere Parkway? I live in Delaware and have run into Bro. Felix Cartegenia a couple of times and he is in the paper every once in a while. I drove down Camp Brisson Road a couple of year ago and was not welcomed, the homes are going for around 2 million each. Thanks again for the memories!
Donald Swadey
Frank DeMilde on September 30, 2011 1:02 PM
Hi Don,
I'm from the western branch of exoblates but helped build Camp Brisson while at the novitiate in Childs, MD. Thanks for adding to our blog. It's nice to hear from a former camper. Maybe some of your counselors from the east can reply to your message. Camp Brisson has now been sold.

Jim Doll on September 24, 2011 12:44 PM
  The reunion took a lot of planning and work.  Thanks to all who arranged for it to take place.  There is talk of another gathering, possibly in the east.  I recommend the following as a possibility
  1. Hold the general gathering in a similar way that the one at Camp DeSales was held (start in the afternoon and run until the following day).  Very little structure would be needed as it is mostly a time to mingle and share stories with people we haven’t seen in many years.
  2. Provide for an optional gathering beginning a day in advance of the general gathering.  This would be for those who would like to meet together in a more structured atmosphere.  Input might come from us or those outside of our xosfs group.  I won’t even attempt to suggest particulars, but I am sure we could come up with a worthwhile agenda.

 Once again thanks for a very worthwhile gathering.

Jim Doll

Ray McCracken on September 22, 2011 8:26 PM

           The Reunion that Became  a  Jubilee

 In the Book of Leviticus, we read: “The 50th year you shall make sacred… It shall be a jubilee for you”.

 The path chose us, bright eyed dreamers that we were. A hounding call,and faith, had flattened us fifty years ago, we were young and playful when we knew each other then. We rose from that marble floor with silver crosses around our necks, but left to stand our ground as teachers, lawyers, doctors, and sculptures of the Great Work.

 We gathered in Brooklyn, Michigan to eat and chat and remember our beginnings on Soyhiers Hill in Childs, Maryland. We lifted a toast to celebrate the way it went for all of us, and the way it is. In the chapel we stood together under the stained glass window of the Sacred Heart, and took the wheat that had been through mill, and grapes bruised into wine, and prayed: “May the Lord accept this sacrifice at our hands”. The way we felt was the only way we could feel: “overwhelmed with gratitude” that we were Oblates.

Jim Murphy on September 23, 2011 12:52 PM
 Well put Ray.  Sometimes I think that if this reunion had taken place in 1985 or even 95, it would have assisted many of us, if only to revive old relationships.  But I don't think God is about time.  The joy I felt was beyond time.  Murph
Don Zurack on September 25, 2011 12:34 PM
Very, very well put, indeed!
Your literary style is to be admired and imitated (Where did you develop the craft of written expression and the ear for that almost poetic rhythm?). 
I would like to think that you (like me) were touched by a very inspiring English arts instructor (probably an Oblate) when you were in high school or college.  Whatever the source(s)--and I suspect they are myriad and complicated--the result (product) is inimitable.  Besides admiring your comment re. the reunion, I also enjoyed chatting w/ you briefly one-on-one @ Camp.  And I intend to continue the dialogue somewhere in real or virtual space/time. Avec plaisir!

Your confrere,  Don Z

Ray McCracken on September 26, 2011 11:26 AM
With much gratitude, Don. I look forward to continuing our friendship.
Ron Kotz on September 30, 2011 5:12 PM
Ray, your heart sings a familiar song.  My years with the Oblates formed a foundation for everything else.  Thanks for your eloquent voice.


Frank DeMilde on September 21, 2011 1:27 AM

The reunion rekindled the Oblate bond.

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