This past Sunday (June 23rd), CTU celebrated the presidency of Fr. Donald Senior, C.P. There was a beautiful liturgy, heartfelt tributes, a festive reception. All of us who attended have had some kind of meaningful interaction or relationship with Fr. Don. This, in and of itself, is really quite something, especially when you consider that the circle of people who know and respect Fr. Don goes far, far beyond that gathering of 300 and I'm sure they have had a similar experience.
I met Fr. Don about 12 years ago when I was working for the Passionists of Holy Cross Province, of which he is a member. I had heard his name, of course, and knew his reputation. I felt some timidity in meeting him. That was short-lived, because anyone who has met Fr. Don is put immediately at ease by his unassuming manner, his great humor, his kindness.
As I reflect on Fr. Don’s presidency, it seems to me that if one tries to define leadership or a great leader, so much rests on the demands of the moment. For example, perhaps unwavering strength is called for at a critical time, or decisiveness, character, vision, managerial prowess, intellectual giftedness, relational deftness. A thick skin. The list goes on.
But when one considers leadership over time, as is true in Fr. Don’s case having served for 23 years, then a staggering rubric of these qualities and more is required. Long-term leadership is not for the faint of heart, in my opinion. And to make it all look easy and joyful? That’s a tall order.
It has been my enormous privilege to work for and with Fr. Don. To have seen him deal gracefully and thoughtfully with the complicated tasks associated with leading a graduate school of theology and ministry in today’s Church was an education. To have traveled with him to the Holy Land and Greece and Turkey was nourishing to mind, heart, and soul. To have witnessed his astonishing work ethic and intellectual clarity was a gift. To have experienced his compassion when I felt vulnerable at work or in my personal life was a blessing. I will carry the memory of his kindness with me always.
Thank you, Fr. Don, for your leadership at CTU, this beautiful institution, and, when all is said and done, for being an unforgettable teacher. Teaching, we know, is your first love. You have taught me more than words could ever say, and for that, I am truly grateful.