Invitation to Wildgeese Reunion IV, July 6-8, 2017
DeSales University, Allentown, PA
by Ron Kotz
May 19, 2017
To the Wild Geese,
Thank you for your enthusiastic response to our preliminary, organizational letter last November. In addition to your support of the XOSFS Reunion IV, we have received over 30 commitments to attend the event at DeSales University on July 6, 7, 8 (Thursday, Friday, Saturday), 2017. As always, these gatherings serve to maintain our own relationships, recall our history and relive some of the wonderful moments of our communal lives. But the selection of DeSales University as the site of this reunion brings with it the opportunity to build friendships with the younger generations of Oblates by visiting and celebrating one of the jewels of the Oblate experience in America. Recently celebrating 50 years since it’s foundation as a college in 1964, it is an extension of our own Salesian experiences. It has grown into a splendid University with 1,500 undergrads, 80% living on campus; 1,200 grad students and 14,000 alumni. It offers 40 bachelor's degrees, six master's degree programs, a Doctor of Nursing Practice in Clinical Leadership, and a Doctor of Physical Therapy Program that is provisionally accredited. It features a state of the art health care simulation center and the most advanced hi-fidelity patient simulators. The Theater and Performance Art program has a wonderful facility featuring a 495 seat auditorium, the Fr. Schubert Theater, and studios for scene design, set construction, costume making, TV and film. It has its own radio station in the DeSales University Center. This and more can be viewed on the University Web Site. DeSales University has 14 intercollegiate teams and competes in the NCAA Division III. Most importantly, it fosters Salesian spirituality in the formation of character, values and ethics.
Our schedule will mirror our previous events. Check in will be on Thursday afternoon with a cocktail reception beginning at 5pm and dinner following. Friday will include optional events: mass in Connelly Chapel, a guided tour of the facilities, an open discussion with Oblate leadership, an organization update from the Steering Committee, and plenty of free-time to mix and mingle. The day will conclude with a Gaudiamus, dinner, and comradery into the evening. Check-out will be Saturday morning following breakfast. The full package, including two nights lodging, two receptions and five meals is only $275. There are options to accommodate your schedule listed on the registration form.
We’re looking forward to seeing you again.
In St. Francis de Sales,
Frank DeMilde, Dick Fell, Ron Kotz, Joe Lehman, Ray McCracken, Bill Mittendorf, Jim Murphy, Tim Pilat, Pat Wright
Opening Remarks at DeSales University
by Bill Mittendorf
Good Evening and Welcome Confreres, XOblates and our Oblate confreres. Reunion IV ! Let me first and foremost thank our Planning Committee: Frank DeMilde, Ron Kotz, Tim Pilat, Dick Fell, Pat Wright, and especially our East site coordinators: Ray McCracken, Jim Murphy, and Joe Lehman. They have all worked hard to present this Reunion to you at this special place in the history of the Oblates. To Frs: Jim Greenfield, Kevin Nadolski, and Ken McKenna your assistance and support is not without notice. You have always welcomed us and our efforts as brothers in the Oblate family.
Seven years ago, my confrere, Steve Puhl (aka Cess) and I met at our old stomping grounds, Camp de Sales, where years ago we reigned as Cess and Castro. From that meeting, a spark was lighted that has led us to today. His Spirit Alive ! On our website music is an optional click which plays the song: "Memories The Way We Were" by Barbara Sreisland recorded in 1981. Yesterday, upon my arrival here at DeSales University, I recalled " The Way We Were" in 1964 during my first year at NECHS and an Oblate stationed there, who was born on July 12, 1912 by the name of Fr. Nick DeInno,OSFS . He was then over 50 years of age and some 30 years plus my senior. He wasn't teaching at North but answered another call as Construction Supervisor for the building of this university. Fr Nick was a well qualified guy from a construction family in Wilmington, Delaware. Sometime in 1964, I journeyed with some confreres to visit this place " out in the middle of nowhere ". A sign stood in a vacant field which read: " On this site will be erected Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales. Opening September, 1965." Driving further into the site, we came upon an old farmhouse on the property which was serving as the Construction Headquarters. There, we were shown the blueprints of the initial college buildings.
Yesterday, I was exploring around campus trying to picture what I had observed in 1964. Nothing looked familiar, except, I did find the old farmhouse still in tact. I went in and wandered around the place. My wanderings led me to the attic, where lo and behold I saw some old blueprints- dusty, yellowed, covered with construction mud, and dirty finger prints (I'm sure Fr Nick's). Opening the prints, it became evident that they were the prints I had seen in 1964. Paging through them, I came to the last page and found an envelope yellowed with age. Blowing off the dust accumulated over the years, the envelope revealed a return address of: " Rev Nicholas DeInno OSFS, Northeast Catholic High School, Philadelphia, Pa." Reading further , I noted the envelope was addressed to: The XOSFS Reunion IV, July 2017. Upon opening the envelope , I found this letter addressed :
To: The XOSFS Attendees at Reunion IV
From: DeSales University
The letter reads:
" Greetings and Welcome to my Campus, a special place in the history of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales!
Somehow, I knew that you would be visiting me this evening. I knew that you would answer a call to join your confreres of old. I recall your days long ago when as young men you began a new life- clothed in black cassock and white collar - as an Oblate. In that new life, you began to taste the waters of Salesian life. Like you, I began my new life in the middle of nowhere. My humble beginnings and first steps were carefully guided by Fr. Nick. Life was simple then ! Just like your beginnings as an Oblate. I had a couple of buildings; a small enrollment of students; and I began to answer the call as an Oblate school of higher education- the first ever! My designation was a college. No university name. No schools of graduate degrees. Most of you never spent time here. But Fr. Nick has told me of your days at Childs, Battle Creek, DeSales Hall, Lewiston, Sallies, North, Judge, Toronto, Salesian, Camp Brisson, and Camp de Sales. In my early days, I was the place where young Oblates were educated- Brisson Seminary was a part of my campus, taking the place of Lewiston and Catholic University. Somewhere along the way, I heard that you left the Oblates to pursue another call. A journey into a new life filled with unknowns, difficulties, and challenges. You developed and pursued new goals. You grew just as I did! Like you, I have "Memories of the Way it Was". I recall my past Presidents: Frs: Stu Dooling, Dan Gambet, and Bernie O'Connor, and I am excited about my new President-Elect, Fr. Jim Greenfield.
My life like yours' has had its ups and downs, failures, joys, sorrows, dreams fulfilled, and many not fulfilled. Yet we are here today to celebrate Life, our greatest gift and legacy! I want each and every one of you to know that you are still a part of my Oblate life. You each have contributed in some small - unique way to my success and that of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. We would not be where we are today without your contribution as a former Oblate. Know that I am proud of you and thank you for the memories. You and I are bonded by our Salesian heritage- the bond of love! You are here today because of that bond. Share your special journey of life with your fellow confreres during these days. Recall those "Memories of the Way We Were". It is good to do so! You are the Custodians of the Oblate life as it once was! The places, people, events, and characters you once knew! Share it! Rejoice in it! Bring it to Life Once Again! Some of the best times of life! Let us share our joy, sorrow, our life's journey with one another. Remember your confreres who have gone before you to prepare a place for you. And, remember that you still drink from the fountains of our Salesian waters. As your confrere, Ron Kotz, who is unable to join you this evening wrote about me:
" We celebrate today DeSales University success as a symbol
of Salesian impact in America. DeSales University stands
after 50 years as an Oblate legacy for all those who came
before. A symbol for us - the Wild Geese set loose in the world
to create our own ripples, propelled by that same common
And so I bid you farewell my confreres! Do come back to visit me again, and as the song goes: "Memories of the Mind of the Way We Were. Can it be that it was so Simple Then. So its the Laughter We will Remember Whenever We remember the way We Were".
Signed: DeSales University, formerly Allentown Colle of St. Francis de Sales
THE FOLLOWING WERE THE ATTENDEES:
Charlie Campbell Dan Holody Jim Murphy
Phil Cerrato Dean Houck Joe Palm
Frank DeMilde Joe Kilian Joe Popiel
Bob Elias Ray McCracken Richard Powers
Richard Fell Frank McGrath John Smith
Jim Gallagher Joe McHugh Jerry Stachura
Joe Gallen Bill Maher Tom Vadden
Greg Glatthorn Paul Meiklejohn Dave Voellinger
Bob Hawkinson Bill Bill Mittendorf Frank Wilderman
George Hohenleitner Dick Moore Pat Wright
Fr James Dalton OSFS
Fr Lew Fiorelli OSFS
Fr Bill Metzger OSFS
Fr Jim Greenfield OSFS