The Sisters of St. Joseph hosted a heartwarming Presidential Mass on Sunday for St. Joseph’s College’s newest President Donald R. Boomgaarden, Ph.D.
More than 200 people, including students, faculty and staff from both of the College’s campuses, crowded into the beautiful and ornate Sacred Heart Chapel at the Sisters’ convent in Brentwood, New York, to witness the congregation’s formal introduction of Dr. Boomgaarden as the eighth president of the College it founded in 1916.
During his reflection near the end of the Mass celebration, Dr. Boomgaarden focused on the importance of gratitude, and how the spirit of gratefulness is life-changing.
“I know that the sisters who are here with us today, and the generations of sisters who are here with us today in spirit, have a sense of gratitude for their vocation to serve God,” Dr. Boomgaarden said, while also noting the gratitude exemplified by students, faculty, staff and board trustees at St. Joseph’s. “Sense of gratitude permeates the spirituality and the spirit of St. Joseph’s College, New York.”
Dr. Boomgaarden, a lifelong musician and an accomplished pianist and fiddler, later became emotional, choking back tears while giving thanks to God for bestowing the “gift of music” upon him.
“And so musicians, I am very grateful for your work,” Dr. Boomgaarden said, referring to the church choir comprised of Sisters of St. Joseph and SJC students and staffers. “It is truly beautiful.”
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Dr. Boomgaarden Brings “Renewed Hope”
The Rev. Francis Pizzarelli, S.M.M., DCSW, a longtime faculty at SJC Long Island, celebrated the afternoon Mass.
“We’re blessed to have a leader who understands who we are as a College — who understands the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph, but also our mission as a liberal arts college community,” Father Pizzarelli said. “The person that he brings is the greatest gift that he gives all of us.
“There are so many wonderful stories in the brief time that President B. has been with us that just give us a sense of renewed hope during this season of hope that the vitality is once again being strengthened in our College community,” he added.
Recalling St. Joseph’s College’s Early Influencers
Earlier at the Mass, Sister Helen Kearney, C.S.J., Ph.D., president of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, delivered a welcome message, during which she paid homage to early influencers of the College. She noted the work of Mother Mary Louis in the early 1900s in planning for the creation of the College, as well as the efforts of Bishop Charles E. McDonnell, who served on the initial board of trustees and became St. Joseph’s first president.
“We are at a new moment to foster the significant mission of this College,” S. Helen said. “We are indeed fortunate that Dr. Donald Boomgaarden will lead his experience in higher education, but most importantly, with his appreciation of the inclusive and transformational mission of the College.”
“We are grateful to Dr. Boomgaarden’s openness, his deep spirituality, his collaborative style and his determination to see St. Joseph’s continue to thrive and be relevant to the needs of students,” she added.