The affable and wise Very Rev. Kevin Storey, CSB, stopped by campus to talk to the community about “What it Means to Be Catholic: Our Basilian Heritage & Catholic Identity.” Fr. Storey is the former president of St. Thomas High School and now serves as the Basilian Superior General in Toronto.
During his entertaining talk, Fr. Storey shared that the Basilian Fathers’ charism was founded by a group and not an individual, which is mostly the case in other congregations like the Jesuits. And, he shared the Basilian heritage that identifies them — goodness, discipline, knowledge and community. The qualities that form the signature of the Basilian ministry are diversity, collaboration and respect for the whole person. These qualities are born out of, and reflect, the Basilian Fathers’ group dynamic and continue to influence the way the order approaches teaching, ministry and the faith. They also offer a unique opportunity to encounter one another through Christ in an increasingly diverse world.
He ended his conversation by answering audience questions. From the back of the room, a question was posed that is at the heart of this article.
Q: “Will the Catholic identity at UST be lost because of fewer Basilian priests?”
A: It’s a great question. Any easy answer might be “of course,” but I don’t believe it’s the correct answer. Let me explain. In the 60s, 70s and 80s there were Basilians under every tree at UST! Basilian priests were in the classroom, in the administrative offices, in the cafeteria, on the fields and walking the sidewalks. It wasn’t just Basilians; there were more priests and nuns in our society overall. As the number of Basilians, priests and nuns started to decrease in the United States, it forced us to confront some serious questions of faith: Was God abandoning us? What does it mean to be Catholic? And more specifically, what makes UST Catholic?
We know as a people of faith that God never abandons us, and if God wanted more priests or nuns at UST, then God would call more priests and nuns. Our familiar way of responding that “we’re Catholic because we have a certain number of priests and nuns on staff” needed to evolve and mature. It’s a wonderful opportunity for all of us to collectively ask “what makes UST Catholic?” rather than in previous decades when we wouldn’t even ask the question.
Our Catholic identity is now squarely the call of all of us rather than it being the responsibility of the Basilians. I find this change empowering because it acknowledges that how an admissions counselor welcomes a prospective student impacts our Catholic identity as much as me preparing a homily. In previous decades it was easier, and also wrong, to attribute our Catholicity to the number of Basilians in the classroom. God’s call to be disciples, and to holiness, is to all of us. Some of us just take longer to recognize that call. – By Fr. Kevin Storey, CSB