On Friday, October 22nd, 1999 a group of twenty-five over zealous St. George’s Old Boys boarded a bus in Toronto – our destination – The Jesuit Retirement Complex near Boston, Massachusetts.
Our driver, Morgan, whom we immediately dubbed “Captain Morgan”, had arranged two tables for the avid domino players. Neil Dalhouse made the roll call, and then we proceeded on our well-anticipated journey. The ten-hour trip took us via Kingston, Ontario with plans to return through Buffalo, New York. The regrouping of twenty-five Old Boys for this trip created much excitement in our anticipation to visit and converse with St. George’s stalwarts such as: Fr. Leo Quinlan, Fr. James Hosie, Fr. Robert Higgins, Fr. James Barry, Fr. Richard Coakley, Fr. William Raftery, Fr. Lawrence O’Toole, Fr. John Sullivan, Fr. Eugene Brissette, Fr. Raymond Mc Clusky, Fr. George Winchester, Fr. James Hayes, Fr. Francis Sarjeant, Fr. Bill Sheehan, among others who paved the way for our education at St. George’s College. My apologies to any of the participating priests whose name is inadvertently not listed above.
On arrival at the retirement centre, the equally excited group of Jesuit priests led by Fr. Leo Quinlan warmly greeted us. Emotions began to flow as our distant memories and associations with these prominent leaders were finally realized.
All plans were well in place for our visit. A complete agenda outlining activities for our two-day stay was distributed.
Our first afternoon began with refreshments and appetizing sandwiches while we intermingled and chatted with various priests, re-bonded and showed our appreciation for the Jesuits’ long standing contribution to St. George’s College.
Later we all gathered in the Loyola Wing of the building where Patrick Smith showed his photo album that vividly captured highlights from the St. George’s Old Boys Chapter here in Toronto.
Fr. Hosie had a display with his Tennis pictures of days long gone by. Pictures of those priests who had taught at St. George’s and who are no longer with us were also on display. In addition, there were at least seven recent St. George’s Year Books for our review. The display and in particular the conversations with the priests visibly triggered nostalgic reactions.
Saturday, October 23 was the day to relive our dreams and firmly re-establish our connections with the priests. At breakfast and lunch, a priest was strategically seated at each table where “great” stories were retold. Many were heart rendering, while others highlighted the mischievous antics some of us displayed in our boyhood days. There were touching moments as well as humorous – “blushing” recollections that resulted in much laughter.
A few priests who were not able to make it to the banquet were later visited in their rooms. They were equally excited and amazingly, they remembered us all despite the many years that have passed. What else could we expect – these are Georgians that we are talking about!
A visit to the graves of all the priests who are laid to rest at Campion Centre further highlighted the importance of our visit to share warm moments with those priests who are still with us. Fr. Leo Quinlan said a prayer at the graves in addition to extending blessings on all of us.
Later fifteen of the twenty-five Old Boys from the visit were taken on a tour of the Seismology Lab. (a building housing instruments for automatically recording the intensity, direction and duration of an earthquake shock). Note: only the fifteen brightest were selected (do not ask who did not make the list.
In the afternoon, we all attended Mass where we further solidified our relationships and connected with God and our souls. The sermon byFr. Hosie was very moving as were the hymns that were selected by Fulford Chin:Holy God We Praise Thy name, & Soul Of My Savior. Everyone sang their hearts out. At the end of the Mass, we all offered each other the Sign of Peace, shook hands and hugged each other with a warm embrace. Mass ended with the singing of”How Great Thou Art”. This activity by far was the greatest moment of my life. It is with regret that more of us were not able to attend and share in this heart rendering re-union.
The final activity was a banquet that featured a superb meal and great speeches that were delivered by ,Marsden Chen, Peter Rickards, Fr. James Hosie, Fr. Quinlan, Gary Williamson, and Robert Vernon. Neil Dalhouse was the Master of Ceremonies for the evening. The touching speeches emphasized the bonding of the Jesuit’s Priests and the Old Boys of St. George’s. Tears came to my eyes with the realization that our trip would soon be over.
Don Barnett, a member of the Old Boys here in Toronto presented the priests with a Plaque of the Toronto Chapter as well as a painting of St. George’s College. The painting was signed by all the visiting Old Boys. Individually, the priests were presented with golf shirts bearing the St. George’s crest as a reminder of our visit.
On behalf of all the St.GC Old Boys, I must conclude by saying that we felt and still feel quite privileged to have been a part of the visiting group to Boston. We returned across the border so energized that we rendered the St. G.C’s song as well as the Jamaican and Canadian National Anthems.
We all returned safely to home on Sunday, Oct.24, 1999 feeling re-vitalized and spiritually fulfilled. The increased bending developed from the visit was still very obvious as we disembarked the bus and reunited with our loving families. The rekindled memories and bonding gained at the Jesuit Retirement Complex will definitely last for many years to come.
Members from Canada- Don Barnett, Fen Chang, Ray Chang, Michael (Buskie) Charley, Fulford Chin, Stanley Chin, Francis Cooke, Lloyd Chung, Neil Dalhouse, Greg Lee, Dr. Louis Lee, Patrick Lee, Francis Lopez, Keith Lowe, Dr. Stanley Lowe- Ching, Herb Phillips Jr., Deirick Potopsingh, Peter Rickards, Francis Rutty, Patrick (Skedron) Smith, Robert Vernon, Gary Williamson, and Lipton Wong.
Members from the USA:-Jimmy & Marsden Chen, Stanley Waite, Bernie Chin, and Donovan Wong.