May 23, 2015
St. William Church in Shelbyville has invited two of its former pastors, Salvatorian priests Richard Driscoll and Richard Gagnon, to return on Saturday, June 6, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their ordinations.
“Myself and Father Richard Gagnon were classmates, we were ordained together,” said Father Richard Driscoll, who is now retired and living in Port Charlotte, Fla.
They were ordained on June 5, 1965, at what is now known as the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception near the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where they had attended seminary. They were ordained with about 150 other religious order priests, Father Driscoll recalled.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Father Driscoll considered a vocation as a priest as a teenager. “I was also attracted to become a fireman,” he said. “When you’re from New York, if you were Irish, the two vocations were policeman or fireman.”
But visits to his school by a Capuchin friar and a Salvatorian turned his attention to the Church. He visited their minor seminaries for high school students and chose the Salvatorians. In the 1950s, “that was the general process of becoming a priest,” Father Driscoll said
“At that time most of the Salvatorians went into education,” Father Driscoll said. “So I prepared myself for that.”
His life as a priest took Father Driscoll around the world, with stops in Tanzania in East Africa, Venezuela, Rome, Fort Worth Texas, and the Salvatorians’ headquarters in Milwaukee, winding up at St. William, where he served as pastor.
When he arrived at St. William, the Hispanic community in the parish was growing. He wasn’t familiar with their culture, so he relied on lay leaders to help with a variety of ministries. “You should be inherently lazy. You should find somebody do it for you,” he joked. “That’s good managerial style.”
During his tenure as pastor, St. William also built a new church. “I walked into it when it was in the planning stage,” Father Driscoll said. “They had collected most of the money.”
After leaving St. William, Father Driscoll retired to Florida. “Right now I’m retired from administration but not from ministry,” he said. He helps at several parishes in Port Charlotte when they need him and he visits a prison and the county jail to celebrate Mass and hear confessions. “They have their own culture in there. It’s a challenge to learn their culture,” Father Driscoll said of his prison ministry.
Like Father Driscoll, Father Gagnon also ended his career at St. William, serving there as pastor for two years before retiring earlier this year. He also served as director of Hispanic ministry for the diocese and pastor of St. Luke Church in Smyrna for 21 years.
He is now living in Milwaukee.
The two friends and classmates will concelebrate Mass at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 6, at St. William. A reception in their honor will follow the Mass.
They will then go to St. Luke Church in Smyrna to concelebrate another anniversary Mass at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 7, Father Driscoll said.
A final anniversary celebration will occur in July at the order’s provincial meeting, Father Driscoll said.