Five alumni of St. John’s Seminary who have made a positive impact in their years of ministry were honored Sept. 25 at the fourth annual Distinguished Alumni Dinner held in Camarillo.The honorees were Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles; Father Michael McCullough, chaplain of the Los Angeles Police Department and founder of the Desert Refuge for Peace Officers; Msgr. Peter Nugent, pastor emeritus at St. John Eudes Church, Chatsworth; Christopher Redondo, retired faculty member at Chaminade College Preparatory School, West Hills, and parishioner at St. Peter Claver Church, Simi Valley; and Msgr. Patrick Thompson, pastor emeritus of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Church, Lomita. Each was presented by a longtime friend and associate, beginning with Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry who presented Msgr. Nugent — “a tremendous friend and support to me in my first assignment as a young immigrant priest” 44 years ago. “Throughout his ministry Peter has been at the forefront of serving our immigrant church in his various assignments,” he said. “He is a grand man, the least volatile, least mercurial man I know, a true manifestation of the grace of God poured out in our lifetimes.”Msgr. Nugent said his seminary experience “introduced me to a whole new meaning of what community means, and that has continued throughout my life. St. John’s has continued to form me, and I am grateful that the seminarians who have come through St. John’s continue to be a blessing in my life. And as a parish priest for 30 years, the people I have met have challenged me and taught me so much. It is a wonderful influence and blessing in my life.” In presenting Msgr. Thompson, Msgr. Joseph Greeley, pastor at St. Pancratius in Lakewood, noted that he has always been amazed by his colleague’s energy and enthusiasm. “Pat Thompson at 50 percent would leave most of us in the dust,” he smiled, adding that Msgr. Thompson always has had “a wonderful vision” of what he wanted to do in ministry. “You don’t come away from a conversation with Pat without knowing more than you did before,” he said.Msgr. Thompson recalled that “a seminary rector once told me, ‘Let the church make your life.’ Well, I believed it, and that’s what has happened. I’ve also believed in saying yes, to welcoming people, and believing that God is always present.”He stressed the importance of knowing that first, one is human, then a Christian, and then a priest. “If you don’t get that right, it’s hell for everybody,” he said with a chuckle. And he emphasized the importance of giving thanks. “I am extremely thankful for all I’ve received,” he said.Msgr. Gary Bauler, pastor of St. Peter Claver Church, said he had known honoree Christopher Redondo for 50 years (the last 15 as his pastor), dating back to their seminary days. “He has used his wonderful talents and abilities to do so much in the parish, and he has the great gifts to share his faith and wisdom with others,” he noted. “He is a dedicated husband and father. And I can’t imagine the number of young people whose lives he has impacted as a teacher — the last 40 at Chaminade.”Redondo said his honor belonged to those who have influenced him and made contributions in different facets of his life. “This honor,” he asserted, “is a tribute to the vocation of marriage and family; to the vocation of being a Catholic educator; to the dedicated laypeople and parishioners; to the foundation provided me from my days in the seminary — Queen of Angels High School, and St. John’s College and Theologate. I am gratified to express publicly my gratitude for the blessing St. John’s Seminary has been and continues to be in my life.”Assistant Chief Sandy Jo MacArthur of the LAPD, who introduced Father McCullough, noted that he is “a full-fledged police officer, the only priest who is a brother in blue. Father Mike has dedicated his life to spreading God’s word and grace to those of all faiths, to those who aren’t sure of their faith, to those who have lost their faith. I’ve seen him touch people who couldn’t be touched. I am proud to call him my brother officer.”Father McCullough thanked Cardinal Mahony and Bishop Curry for supporting him in his ministry “during these decades of priest shortages.” He noted the challenge of ministering to those whose souls and psyches have been damaged by dealing with violence and crime, and he offered advice to the seminarians present.“They say integrity is what you do when no one is looking,” he said. “In our times, you won’t be a good cop, or a good priest, without integrity. I pray that we’ll be able to give that to our people in our service to them.”Cardinal Mahony was presented by Msgr. Ron Swett of Bakersfield, a 2010 honoree, who had served as the liturgical emcee for Auxiliary Bishop Mahony of Fresno. “The seed of what Cardinal Mahony has accomplished in Los Angeles took root as a young priest in the Diocese of Fresno,” Msgr. Swett noted. “His outreach to the Hispanic population, his love of liturgy, his respect for collaborative ministry, his dedication to work for meaningful immigration reform all took shape among the people of our diocese.”In particular, Msgr. Swett praised his friend’s dedication to resolving the farm labor dispute of the 1960s. “Father Mahony came to that difficult environment able to talk to all sides, and brought peace to the farmers and laborers,” he said. “Cardinal Mahony has provided pastoral energy, vision and leadership for the church in Los Angeles, in California and the U.S.”The cardinal thanked all who had helped in his seminary formation, notably the Vincentian priests, and two instructors in particular. “What really changed my life, to this very day, was the impact that two priests who taught at St. John’s: Msgr. Gus O’Day and Vincentian Father Charlie Barr,” he said. Both, he smiled, were rather unorthodox in their approach to teaching, but both were also dedicated to serving the Hispanic population of the archdiocese. “They taught me a tremendous love for our Hispanic brothers and sisters who we would be serving as priests,” he said. “We would minister to them at the bracero camps in Ventura County; those people inspired me, and from that my whole life changed. That’s why that is my primary focus today, and that would not have happened without St. John’s Seminary.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/1007/alumni/{/gallery}