Diocese of Rockville Centre

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, NEW YORK, Jan. 17, 2006 – Monsignor James M. McDonald, pastor of St. Matthew’s Roman Catholic parish in Dix Hills, has been named rector of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Bishop William Murphy announced today.
Msgr. McDonald, 64, succeeds interim rector Msgr. Robert Emmet Fagan. Msgr. McDonald will begin serving in his new role on February 1, 2006; the beginning of the spring semester.

Established in 1930 and based in Huntington, the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception is the Roman Catholic center of theological education and pastoral and spiritual formation on Long Island. The seminary prepares men to serve in the ordained ministry as diocesan priests in the Diocese of Rockville Centre and Diocese of Brooklyn. The seminary also forms men to become priests of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentian) community.

“Msgr. McDonald is the right person for this time in the history of our seminary and he is a tremendously gifted priest. Everyone who has met Msgr. McDonald knows him to be a man with a love for the priesthood and a crystal clear understanding of what it means to serve God in the priestly ministry,” said Bishop Murphy. 

“Msgr. McDonald is a priest who has won the confidence and respect of every priest with whom he has served since his ordination in 1967. He will be an extraordinary mentor and leader of the men we are privileged currently to have now and, by the grace of God and with the prayers and support of the families of our diocese will have in formation in the future.”

“Msgr. McDonald’s experience as pastor of St. Matthew’s parish, his serving as associate director of vocations under Bishop McHugh, and his 38 years of priestly ministry gives him an extraordinary understanding of the priesthood and the experience that is the formative process. His work as associate director of vocations makes him ideally suited to forming our seminarians,” added Bishop Murphy.

“Msgr. McDonald is a fine appointment,” said Msgr. Fagan, interim rector, Seminary of the Immaculate Conception. “He is a man who loves the calling he has received to be a priest and to serve the People of God. To the priests of the diocese, Msgr. McDonald is known as the ‘vocations pastor.’ He has always promoted vocations and has been a big supporter of the seminary. With 16 years of experience as a pastor, Msgr. McDonald understands the life of the parish priest. That experience and understanding will serve him well,” added Msgr. Fagan.

“The position of seminary rector is such a significant responsibility as men formed in the seminary will be our future priests,” said Bishop Murphy. “Our seminary also trains men and women, lay and religious who are preparing to serve in various ministries in the Church including the diaconate. And so, the importance of this seminary to the spiritual life of the Catholic Church is tremendously important,” added Bishop Murphy.

Msgr. McDonald is a Brooklyn native who attended St. Saviour school until he was eight. His family then moved to Garden City where he attended St. Joseph parish school. Msgr. McDonald is a graduate of Chaminade High School and Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception. He attended the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception and was ordained to the sacred priesthood by Bishop Walter P. Kellenberg, the first bishop of Rockville Centre. Early in his priesthood, Msgr. McDonald was assigned for almost nine years to St. Matthew parish in Dix Hills. In September 2000, he returned as pastor.

In addition to St. Matthew parish, Msgr. McDonald has served as an associate pastor at St. Aloysius, Great Neck; Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Lindenhurst; St. Joseph, Kings Park, and SS. Cyril and Methodius, Deer Park. Msgr. McDonald served as associate pastor and administrator at St. John the Evangelist, Center Moriches.

“I must tell you, I was very surprised to be considered. I thought St. Matthew parish would be my first and last appointment as priest,” said Msgr. McDonald. “However, as we all know, the Lord sometimes has other plans for us. I really love parish work and St. Matthews. I consider the parishioners my extended family. At the same time, I’m very grateful to Bishop Murphy and honored for his asking me to serve as rector. I love the seminary and I am very excited about working with an outstanding faculty in forming our new seminarians.”

Msgr. McDonald currently serves on the Diocesan Senate of Priests (Presbyteral Council/College of Consultors). He also serves as the Diocesan Director of the Apostleship of Prayer, Director of the Nocturnal Adoration Society and Spiritual Director of the Legion of Mary.

Msgr. McDonald will take over as rector on February 1, 2006. Msgr. Fagan will continue to reside at the seminary and offer his assistance to Msgr. McDonald especially in the areas of development and the overall care of the seminary property. Father James F. Pereda, a judge in the Diocesan tribunal, will be administrator of St. Matthew’s Parish beginning February 1 and will continue to serve in that capacity until the Bishop names a new pastor in the late spring.

The Seminary of the Immaculate Conception
Now in its 75th year, the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception currently has 42 seminarians. While its primary task has and continues to be the preparation of candidates for the diocesan priesthood, the seminary has also evolved into a center of studies for men preparing for the permanent diaconate and for lay people and Religious pursuing post-graduate degrees and certifications in theology and ministry.

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About The Diocese of Rockville Centre
The Diocese of Rockville Centre (www.drvc.org) was formed in 1957 and covers 1,222 square miles in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The diocese serves approximately 1.4 million Catholics (total population in both counties is approximately 3.3 million). There are 134 parishes in 115 towns. Last year over 20,000 baptisms, 18,000 confirmations, 20,000 first communions and 5,000 marriages took place in the diocese. There are 2,137 students in Catholic kindergarten, 23,825 in primary or elementary school, 12,628 in secondary school and 3,300 in higher institutions. There are 76 Catholic elementary and high schools and one Catholic college in the diocese. Catholic Health Services of Long Island consists of five hospitals, three nursing homes, two home-care agencies, two senior housing complexes, a community-based home for those with special needs and a hospice. Last year, Catholic Charities assisted more than 80,000 individuals who are poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged on Long Island.

For more information:
Sean P. Dolan
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516-678-5800, ext. 625