2019 Alumni Night: May 4, 2019
Ignite the Calvary Spirit
History of Early Reunions
St. Lawrence College Alumni Association
In 1901, alumni of St. Lawrence gathered at their alma mater for a reunion. During the reunion the alumni felt called to form the St. Lawrence Seminary Alumni Association. Since 1901 the Alumni Association has sought to aid SLS alumni in maintaining their connections with St. Lawrence and with the spirit that they experienced while at the seminary, to aid the alumni in maintaining their bonds of brotherhood with one another and with the Capuchins, and to aid the Capuchins in ensuring that St. Lawrence Seminary High School is able to continue shaping the lives of young men and preparing them for an active response to God’s call to minister to His people and the world.
Today, the Alumni Association carries out this work through gatherings, including a biennial reunion, through the publication of The Laurentianum magazine, through annual fund-raising campaigns and its website.
“Today’s are dull, and so we wend our ways, back to the beautiful yesterdays.”
One of God’s happiest gifts to man is doubtless memory. To look back over the ‘dim distant past,” to envisage its ideals, its struggles, its conquests, to thrill to its chords of happiness, to smile at its youthful pranks, is truly to relive the sweet without the bitter. Memory we might say was in the final analysis, the motive and inspiration of the St. Lawrence College Alumni Association. “Oh,” writes Msgr. Haxmeier in one of his affectionate invitations,
“To be a boy once more! No, not I – yet I am aware that this makes me appear singular. Nevertheless, no one can enjoy it more than I to return to old St. Lawrence on the hill top. At each recurring visit there vibrates through my very bones a rejuvenating impulse, my step is quickened, my mind relieved – young once more by listening to the fascinating story teller of old, with whom I prayed and toiled, with whom I played, quarreled, vied. Professor, stern and unrelenting, scholar slow and much pretending, now on equal standing ground – what a revelation!”
The memories that welled in the heart of the Rev. Frank J. Jansen, in particular, might be considered the proximate occasion to which the organization owes its birth. There had been very pleasant reunions formally, but no concerted action until the late days of October 1901, the falling leaves perhaps inspired Father Jansen with a longing to see old faces and hear loved voices. But let us hear his own account.
“The preparation for this reunion was made in less than ten days. A number of alumni residing in the State of Indiana arranged to pay a visit to their Alma Mater. They were desirous of meeting old friends and classmates and communicated with Wisconsin alumni. At once invitations were sent out to as many alumni as were known to those interested in the reunion. The response to this invitation exceeded all expectations.
The first meeting was held in the evening of November 5, 1901. It was there decided to organize an Alumni Association, and a committee was elected to draft a constitution. In the morning of the following day Rev. J. Baker celebrate High-mass, assisted by Revs. John Berg as Deacon, and John Schiffer as Sub-deacon, Rev. Thomas Jansen acted as master of ceremonies.
The provincial organization gave way to a permanent one on July 23, 1902. The rekindles fires of affection for the Laurentianum were manifested by the increased number that attended the reunion. Every alumnus who had been present on November 6, 1901 must have been busy encouraging others to join the association. Many of the older men were present, and although they had reunions of a few congenial men in years long past, they enjoyed this visit above all, for they became acquainted with young men, who resolved to emulate their example in filial devotion to the Alma Mater on Mount Calvary.
This reunion was called for July 19, 1905; it was a great success in every respect. Article VI of the constitution was amended by changing the annual dues from $5.00 to $1.00.
This was planned as part of the Golden Jubilee of the Capuchin Province, June 25, 1907. The Provincial Father Antonine, cordially invited the alumni, for “a reunion would be a very appropriate feature to help us sing our jubilee anthem for the many blessings that have crowed the labors of our beloved and venerable Founders. One of these is still with us and we anticipate for him on this occasion the pleasure of reviewing the golden harvest of the humble foundation.”
On July 9, 1909 the fifth reunion took place. Thirty-one alumni were present and made the old halls ring with the cheer of the old Calvary boys.
This gathering was held on July 4, 1911. The evening train brought a large number of alumni which increased the next day to fifty-six.
On the evening of June 30, 1913, an informal gathering of alumni took place on the campus. It was a feast of continuous song and hilarity. The Revs. Peter Emer and George Wessling inspired all with enthusiasm, until sleep overpowered tired eyelids. The evening’s entertainment was highly enjoyed, for able men like Revs. Emer, Wessling, Kommers and Mr. Haslach rendered solos, duets and trios of every kind, and the speeches of Revs. Kleser, Weyer and Bender thrilled and convulsed the audience.
The favorable results of last year made this meeting possible on July 30, 1914. The greater number of participants (50) had arrived with the evening train, and supper had been taken, the college grounds rang with rollicking cheer of animated talk and stirring melody. At 8:00 all gathered in the college hall where several classic films of motion pictures alternated with songs and amusing selections on the stage.
If success is to be measured by the number of members present and the enthusiasm shown then the ninth meeting of July 19, 1916, was a grand success. The dinner hall was filled by ninety-six alumni. Fr. Salesius pleaded for his wireless and received a contribution of $60.00. The historian’s report was then read. He had sent out questionnaires which did not bring the expected help. “History must be collected, it cannot be fabricated,” he emphatically stated.
On account of the war and the ‘flu’ the reunion of 1918 was suspended and called again by the president for July 14, 1920. “When we recall the splendid faith of the ‘Fathers,’ how who with scanty means erected an institution, then we feel that each of us owes a debt of love and loyalty to them and the college, which we cannot repay but by paying a brief visit to the scenes of our happy youth,” thus reads the appeal of the president to the alumni.
The biennial meeting of the Alumni Association was held at the College on July 18 and 19, 1922. A select choir of alumni sang Gruber’s Mass in honor of St. Frederick. Although Calvary alumni number over two thousand, and although the Laurentianum has produced over five hundred priests, it is sad to know that so few, particularly so few laymen, join the ranks of the association. What a glorious band they would make, those Calvary boys!
We quote our President, Rev. Father Herb: “Living in an age in which progress and efficiency are the watchword and speed has become synonymous with them, people working continually at high tension are in danger of becoming and sometimes do become moral wrecks; physicians therefore recommend a back-to-nature cure. Calvary boys have an exceptional opportunity for getting back to nature, for their Alma Mater has always fostered the simple life.