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Listen and learn, care and rejoice — ask Father Pat Tonry, S.M. ’55

11:11 AM  Jun 3rd, 2014
by Father Pat Tonry, S.M.

The questions and answers that appear only in this online edition of the University of Dayton Magazine are followed by those appearing in the print edition.

One of your gifts as a priest is that you are an excellent storyteller. Who are your favorite storytellers and why? —NICOLE TRAHAN, F.M.I., DAYTON
I do love stories and storytelling. My favorite storytellers are the deceased Irishman Hal Roach, Father William J. Bausch and John Shea. I like these storytellers because they know how to interest a person and a group and how to tell a story well, and they have some very good stories to share. In addition, Father Bausch gives a history and explanation of storytelling in several of his books.

 Pope Francis has written and spoken a lot about joy and the fact that a follower of Jesus should be a person of joy. What in your life right now brings you the most joy? —NICOLE TRAHAN, F.M.I., DAYTON
I have been blessed with a happy disposition. What gives me most joy is anything directly involving people like ministering the sacraments, preaching, visiting the sick, working at the Marianist Mission. I do office work and I like that, too, because I also work with others in that context and spend my time writing letters to our donors.

You have been the pastor of a Marianist parish in the Baltimore area. What special gifts do Marianists bring to parish ministry with our focus on community and Mary? —DAN KLCO, S.M.’92, DAYTON
In my experience creating a sense of community in our large parish was a goal from the beginning, with the parish council, with the various committees and with the parish itself. In fact we called ourselves “St. Joseph’s Catholic Community.” Mary is at the center of the community as we celebrate her feasts, hold her up as a model of openness, faithfulness and service, and try to establish Marian ways of relating with people and events: openness, acceptance, hospitality.

You are such a master at developing relationships, what is your secret and/or way of making that happen? —STEVE MUELLER ’74, DAYTON
I don’t think I have any secret for developing relationships. I just really like people and relationships just seem to develop. I’m just blessed.

What or who inspired you to become a Marianist priest? Are you always so upbeat, personal and friendly? —THOMAS J. WESTENDORF ’78, DAYTON
I was inspired to become a Marianist by my older brother John at his first profession of vows at Beacon, N.Y., in 1949. I am blessed with a happy disposition; and so I am almost always upbeat, happy, personal and friendly.

What advice would you give to someone considering life as a Marianist brother, sister or priest? —NICOLE TRAHAN, F.M.I., DAYTON
To anyone considering joining Marianist religious life, which I have loved for 62 years, I would say be ready for close community and living with various kinds of personalities and for a richness of life and ministry experiences. May you have an open heart and spirit like Mary.

What does Mary have to teach us about living a faithful life today? —JOAN SCHIML ’90, DAYTON
I sense Mary as a companion, as one encouraging me to keep being faithful and open, to keep my eyes fixed on her.

What was your favorite part of being rector at UD? —JESSICA GONZALES ’96, DAYTON
I was rector of UD from 1993 to 1996, and I enjoyed especially interacting with all the offices and officers and departments of the university. I was able to attend many meetings, join in various celebrations, take part in various activities and share many gatherings in those years. Getting to know all at the University and becoming part of the University community was such a joy, and I was sorry to leave just as I was getting to know everyone.

As you think about your time as rector at the University of Dayton, where do you see the Marianist identity of the various high schools and universities heading? How can they keep that identity with fewer and fewer professed Marianists? What’s the role of the laity? —MARK DELISI ’91, LEESBURG, VA.
Because there are fewer or no professed Marianists in our various high schools, it is a huge challenge to keep and hold a Marianist presence in those schools; but many of those schools, through Marianist laity, ARE succeeding. There is a program of formation for high school teachers, run by the province, for teachers in such schools so they can keep the Marianist presence alive.

What is your favorite memory of teaching and living in Puerto Rico? How has Marianist education made an impact in those students and their families?  —JESSICA GONZALES ’96, DAYTON
I have so many memories of my two years teaching and living in Puerto Rico it is difficult to pick a favorite, but Christmas and especially the days prior to Christmas I will always remember. That time of the year in Puerto Rico is so happy and full of celebrations. And Marianist education in Puerto Rico is very strong; and many former students are in positions of influence in Puerto Rico, and many have come to the mainland and have studied here and have succeeded very well.

What is your favorite scotch? —MYRON ACHBACH ’58, DAYTON
My usual scotch is Dewar’s. My favorite scotch is Glenmorangie.

Did you play any sports growing up? If not, what were your hobbies? Besides the Dayton Flyers, who is your favorite sports team? —THOMAS J. WESTENDORF ’78, DAYTON
Growing up I played sports but not organized sports, just those in the neighborhood. Of course I have been a Dayton Flyers’ fan and have followed a few other teams over the years, but my favorite football team is the Pittsburgh Steelers.

What historical figure would you like to meet? —THOMAS J. WESTENDORF ’78, DAYTON
My great historical interest has been John F. Kennedy. I admired him greatly. He stirred up such interest in politics for me and for the young people I was teaching at that time. I know we have since learned some things about him that have sullied his character, but he was a great leader and could stir a crowd and a generation and could instill ideals. That was a gift.

When have you been the most confident that you were following God’s will? —BETH HABEGGER SCHULZ ’07, DAYTON
I wonder if a person is ever really confident he or she is ever really doing God’s will, but one tries his or her best. I think when I accepted the assignment to be pastor of St. Joseph’s Catholic Community, when I did not really want to do this ministry at all, was when I had a sense I was doing God’s will.

What is your favorite part of being a Marianist? —JOAN SCHIML ’90, DAYTON
My favorite part of being a Marianist is knowing that others share this dream … of a faithful, open, compassionate, equal, life-giving, faith-filled community.

What is your best childhood memory? —THOMAS J. WESTENDORF ’78, DAYTON
One of my best childhood memories is going on vacation with the family to Rockaway Beach, to the Irish section, where we would rent a cabin. I would get up early with my dad, and we would go down the boardwalk and get things for breakfast for the family. I loved those early morning walks with my dad. In the evenings we all would go to McGinty’s for Irish singing and dancing.

You are known as a warm pastor and an incredible storyteller. When trying to speak to people’s hearts through a story, what are the most important things to keep in mind? —BRANDON PALUCH, S.M. ’06, BEAVERCREEK, OHIO
A story, as wonderful as it is, is only a means. What I try to keep in mind is what am I trying to communicate, what am I trying to touch in the hearts of my listeners? Have I myself sensed first what is going on with them? Does this story really fit?

Give us your impression of Pope Francis so far. —MARK DELISI ’91, LEESBURG, VA.
I admire him. I like the path he is taking. I agree that changes have been needed, and I agree with the things he has said and done, not that he needs my endorsement. I admire his style of leadership, his openness, his simplicity, his courage. I think he is a prophetic Pope.

What do you wish the UD community knew about the work of the Marianist Mission? —NICOLE TRAHAN, F.M.I., DAYTON
About 60 very devoted people work in the Marianist Mission; most of them have been there for many years. The work can be monotonous, but it is important because it supports our brothers, priests and sisters who are working directly with very poor children in unbelievably poor conditions and educating them in Africa, India and Mexico. These ministries are not self-supporting because they are with the destitute poor. Our appeals through the Marianist Mission mailings are essential.

At this point in your life as a Marianist priest, what “makes you go?” What drives you every day?  —MYRON ACHBACH ’58, DAYTON
This question is a very interesting one because I don’t think of it very often. I just get up and go about my business. I do so because I promised to. I made my commitment and I am happy and healthy. I like what I do and I am making a contribution, small as it may be. What is important for me is that I am doing some sort of good. I admit it is harder to see that in desk work and letter writing, yet I know this ministry is important. When I was in parish ministry and teaching it was much more evident to see help being rendered. But in the long run, it’s always about doing God’s will.

What keeps you excited about the Marianist charism?  —DAN EVANS ’86, DAYTON
It is so open — to young, middle-aged and old; to celibate, single and married — to bring Jesus to the world and to do so with others.

In your career as a Marianist, what aspects have been outstanding for you? —STEVE MUELLER ’74, DAYTON
One was being provincial of the New York Province of the Marianists; I was blessed at that time to be on the board of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men and met many exceptional leaders of religious orders, both men and women. Those contacts gave me great hope for the future of religious life in the United States.

What is one piece of advice you would give to the younger generations?
—BETH HABEGGER SCHULZ ’07, DAYTON
To rejoice in your many graces and blessings, be thankful for them and share them. Then understand where they have come from and what that entails in terms of responsibility.

One Response to Listen and learn, care and rejoice — ask Father Pat Tonry, S.M. ’55

  1. Bing Miller says:

    Father Pat,
    It was a wonderful suprise when you showed up to host mass at St. Josephs in Maryland last weekend. I had just read my alumni news last week and saw that you were active in managing the Marist Mission. I assumed from the article that you were living in Dayton not Philly). I worked for Father Joe McCoy at the Marinist Mission Mailroom back in 1975 while attending UD. I was one of the three student workers that fell a couple of floors on the 100 year old elevator at mission headquarters in downtown Dayton (no one got hurt real bad). I hope you make more trips in the future to St. Josephs
    Bing Miller UD 1975 current St. Josephs parrisioner Sykesville, MD

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