SJC Easter Cross

October 7th, 2018


Mass in St. Joseph Chapel

October 7, 2018




Underlying Theme of this Sunday´s Readings: Bonding!


The Creation Stories in the Bible are about searching for the meaning of creation and of human life.  “It is not good that man be alone…”  “made in the image and likeness of God.”

This human bonding is symbolized in the Gospel in relation of marriage.  Human beings were created for one another.   We are made to be in relationship.


Celebrating our SJC Bonds.  On this special day as we celebrate Mass in our chapel for the first time since the Graduation Mass in early May, 2017, I would like to focus this reflection on our college community,.  We are able to celebrate today now that we have settled with our Lender and the campus is entirely back into our hands.


In speaking with alumni, they frequently recall their friends, their dorm buddies, a particular teacher or two who were special to them and who maybe helped them through a difficult moment in their lives, a facilities worker, maybe even a security person with whom they developed a frequent relationship, a cook, an administrator, a trustee like Mike Vallone who would welcome each incoming freshman with a little gift, fellows, or the residents of the Rensselaer community.


Many people over a century have worked hard to contribute to making SJC what we came to know and love.  It pained us all to see that we could no longer move forward as we were.  When the suspension was announced, people were wounded.  We all suffered.  It was a sad moment for all.


My own experience of brokenness: when human bonds are broken


I know what lack of trust and the absence of dialogue can do to a marriage.  I saw how my own parent´s marriage broke down, how wounds were inflicted.  I bear my own quota of wounds.  But there came a moment in my life, when I had to leave behind that natural inclination to point the finger to see who was to blame, to be angry about my robbed childhood.  With the grace of GOD, with a lot of patience and hard work and support of others, those wounds are healed.  I still bear the scars, but I have found a mission in those wounds.  I won´t let those wounds define who I am or how I wish to be or to view others.  And I have been able to forgive those involved in the breakup of my family.  What a deeply freeing experience that moment was!  It was possible only after much prayer and support.



Mission Impossible? May 13th when I was named Rector of SJC


Even though it looked like an impossible task, a small group of dedicated members of the Phoenix Team, facilities personnel, and a restructured Board of Trustees and with the encouragement of friends we have worked tirelessly to overcome what to some appeared as unsurmountable obstacles”. I was personally moved by the encouragement an support of the people of Rensselaer: people stopping me on the street, or in the gym, or pumping gas at Family Express, or while shopping a Walmarts and telling me they were praying for us and hoping we would come back!  Progress was slow and there were many hurdles to jump, but we never looked back and kept our eyes on the goal… of one day re-birthing our College and bringing life back to our college campus.


We focused preserving the MISSION of the College, getting back to the basics and starting afresh, responding to the challenges of our times. Mission was our guiding Star, a mission imbued with Christian humanism and inspired in Gospel values. As our research and innumerable conversations progressed, it became clear that the new SJC would not look exactly like the one we knew.  Responding to new trends in higher education, we soon realized that a new model needed to be developed. 


All are Needed!


In this new venture, we recognize that ALL ARE NEEDED. We need to mend fences and build bridges in a concerted effort to bring people together…all segments of the college community.  We are called to come together as family, and always keep the vision of the Kingdom before us: a kingdom of brotherhood and sisterhood, where each person is respected, where love is the uniting force, in which CHRIST is the ROCK upon which we build our house.


It is time to move forward!


We are grateful for our past and we are grateful for the time the Lord has given us.  Now is the time for healing and for moving forward.  When crises are faced and not avoided, they often become the catalyst for change and new growth.  It is an opportunity to come together, to renew our commitment as alumni, fellows, friends, local community of Rensselaer … because ALL ARE NEEDED so as to realize the dream and the hope we all share: that of a re-birth of our beloved SJC.


As Pope Francis once mentioned to a group of young people:  A community needs both ROOTS and WINGS.  If we don´t have roots, we do not know where we came from, our past, our successes and our failures, our traditions.  And without wings, we cannot fly.  We cannot dream dreams and respond to new situations and challenges which today are different than twenty, thirty, fifty years ago.  You can´t put new wine into old wineskins.

We need our alumni and all our friends to come together and to be the mothers and fathers of this new creation!


Permit me to read the poem The Bridge Builder, by Will Allen Dromogoole, which I find very apt for the moment we are living.


An old man going a lone highway,

Came at the evening cold and gray,

To a chasm, vast, and deep and wide,

Through which was flowing a sullen tide.


The old man crossed in the twilight dim;

The sullen stream had no fear for him;

But he turned, when safe on the other side,

And built a bridge to span the tide.


“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim, near,

“You are wasting strength with building here;

Your journey will end with the ending day;

You never again will pass this way;

You´ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide—

Why build you this bridge at the evening tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head:

“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,

“There followeth after me today,

A youth, whose feet must pass this way.


This chasm, that has been naught to me,

To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.

He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;

Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.”



It is time to break down the walls which sometimes we build around our hearts, because as Pope Francis also reminds us, “walls separate us.”  Instead we need to build “bridges”, because bridges are what bring us together.


The Eucharist is a privileged moment to bond with God and to renew our covenant bond with one another.  As we gather around this Table of the Eucharist, we come together as one family.  What we celebrate and live here together, we are called to carry out that door and it becomes our mission today and tomorrow.  We renew the BOND of fellowship as PUMAS and friends of SJC and we commit ourselves to building the Reign of God, in this little piece of that Reign, called Saint Joseph´s College. 


I would like to end this reflection citing the words of Meister Eckhart found on the cover of our Worship Aide this morning:


“And suddenly you know: It´s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      


The time is NOW… And with God´s help, together WE CAN DO IT!

Fr. Barry Fischer, C.PP.S.

Rector and Puma Forever