New rector of St. Charles

By Christie L. Chicoine

CS&T Staff Writer

Father Shaun L. Mahoney, 51, was assigned as rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood in July.

The youngest of three sons of Joseph and Edna Mahoney was raised in St.
Matthias Parish in Bala Cynwyd. He has a multiple degrees including a
bachelor’s from Harvard University, a master of spaninity degree from St.
Charles Seminary and a doctorate and licentiate in sacred theology from
the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

Before entering St. Charles Seminary, he volunteered with missionaries
and worked in a bookstore while he and several friends set up a house
for Catholic young adults.

In addition to his assignments at parishes, Father Mahoney served as
chaplain of the Newman Center at Temple University, Philadelphia, from
2005 to 2010. {{more}}

Q. What was your reaction to being appointed rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary?
A. It came as a complete surprise. I might even say shock.

Q. What are your chief responsibilities?
A. First and foremost, I am a priest.

Living my priesthood is at the heart of all of my assignments and it is the heart of this assignment.

If I were to attempt a further specification, I would say I am asked to
be somewhat of a pastor to the seminary community. I am involved with
the formation of seminarians. With the help of many fine priests and lay
people at the seminary, I have oversight of the four spanisions of St.
Charles, namely, the College, Theology, Religious Studies and Permanent
Diaconate spanisions.

In addition to communicating with those in our community, I must
communicate to our sending dioceses and religious orders that make use
of the seminary.

Q. Father Joseph W. Bongard, the
former president of Roman Catholic High School for Boys in Philadelphia,
was appointed vice-rector of the seminary. What are his chief
responsibilities as vice-rector? What personal characteristics and
attributes does he bring to the seminary?

A. Father Bongard is involved in all aspects of the seminary. We work
closely together as a team. Aside from being a wonderful priest, Father
Bongard has a great sense of humor and is an excellent administrator.
Both gifts will be well employed here.

Q. At what age and how were you first
called to the priesthood, and what was the deciding moment that led you
to enter St. Charles Seminary?

A. My call to the priesthood extended over years with many influences.

The faithful witness of my parents provided a foundation. An atheist in
college forced the question of faith: “Do I really believe?”

The celebration of the Mass in the Missionary of Charity Home for Dying
Destitutes in Calcutta awakened me to the realness of the Eucharist.

The Neumann House on Fifth Street in Philadelphia, a house for Catholic young adults, gave me the space to discern the call.

Q. What do you recall about your first day on campus as a seminarian?
A. I am going to speak very honestly here. I wasn’t altogether
comfortable when I came to the seminary. I had experienced vibrant faith
communities among missionaries and in a house for young adults prior to
entering the seminary.

The seminary had more a feel of an institutional structure. I realized
the importance of the seminary for putting necessary pieces into place. I
saw the value of its systematic unfolding of theology. I welcomed the
liturgical formation. I appreciated the apostolic experiences and I
valued the friendships that emerged.

I was very mindful, though, that I was called to be a priest and not to
be a seminarian. I felt a dryness in coming to the seminary.

I share this for the sake of strengthening men on the journey through
the seminary. Some think that if they feel dryness or discomfort, they
do not belong here. It is necessary to remain attuned to the true goal
of the call and see the seminary’s role in its proper context.

Q. As a seminarian, did you ever aspire to one day return to the seminary as rector?
A. No.

Q. What advice do you have for seminarians who entered St. Charles for the first time this fall?
A. Pray that you do not stand in the way of Jesus.

Q. What advice do you have for the upperclassmen about their remaining years at St. Charles?
A. Become fire!

Q. What are the basics – in general, what is involved – in forming seminarians into future priests?
A. Live Jesus! I am convinced that there is a need to shift the emphasis from a programmatic emphasis to a sacramental emphasis.

If we really live a eucharistic life – which is not just keeping the
Eucharist in a schedule, but more, being impressed with the personal
dynamism of eucharistic love – we will be transformed into other

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or