Augustinians of the Assumption

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Home WHO WE ARE Assumptionists Profiles Bro. PAUL HENRY, A.A.



Interviewer – How did you, as an Assumptionist brother from Horseheads, New York, begin your journey to religious life?

Bro. Paul – Yes, I am from Horseheads, New York where my parents still live. I have a sister in New York, another in New Jersey and a brother in Portland Oregon. My early education was with the Sisters of St. Joseph and later with the Sisters of Mercy in Elmira, New York. It was through them that I became interested in the monastic life. Initially I contacted the Benedictines at St. Vincent’s in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and Mt. Saviour in New York. While in college at St. Vincent’s, majoring in political science, I also considered the active religious life. Through a Rochester Sister of St. Joseph, I heard of the Assumptionists and became a candidate in Brookline, working in the library and a local bank. I began reading St. Augustine and was influenced by a friend at Boston College and the intellectually stimulating dinner table conversations with the community. Having loved philosophy, especially Plato and Aristotle, I began to develop my skills in critical thinking while in Brookline and became more and more attracted to Augustinianism.

How did your studies, formation and subsequent assignments continue to nourish your religious journey?

– In March of 1979 I entered the congregation and did my novitiate in Brookline the following year. After profession I studied at Weston Jesuit School of Theology for a brief time. From there I went to St. Anne & St. Patrick’s in Sturbridge and took courses in philosophy and French at Assumption College where I further developed my skills in critical thinking along with my interest in monastic life. This experience eventually took me to the Trappist Abbey of the Genesee in upper New York State for a short time. Then I moved to New Jersey where I worked and developed an interest in literature which led me to St. Bernard’s High School in Fitchburg, MA where I taught English and the humanities for two years. This was followed by a move back into community, first at Emmanuel House doing reading courses at the college and then to Brookline again and Weston Jesuit. At the same time I worked at St. Francis House in downtown Boston with the homeless before moving to our house in Brighton, MA.

In what other ministries have you been involved?

– In Worcester I worked in a city program called Parent Aide. And from 1992-1996, I was on the campus ministry team at Assumption. Another turning point in my life was the viewing of a movie on the life of St. Theresa of Avila which once again piqued my interest in monasticism. And so for two and a half years I lived with the Trappists in
Spencer, MA. While there I read the monastic writers and reflected on the challenging integration of prayer, work and community. With the decision made to come back to the congregation in Brighton, I worked with young adults in a program called Theology on Tap. Having also discerned that life at Mt. Saviour was not for me; I briefly lived at Emmanuel House once again and worked with Fr. Dennis Gallagher, A.A. in the Mission Office at the college before coming to St. Anne & St. Patrick’s.

What has become your focus in doing parish work?

– Since the year of St. Paul, I have focused on adult faith formation, specifically the Adult Catechism and have developed groups for the study of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclicals and Pope John Paul II’s catechesis on the Theology of the Body. Since I am now drawn to catechetical work, I have also begun a group called, “Saints on Saturday.” For my own enrichment, I belong to a reading group of a few men who meet once a week. I also enjoy my involvement with the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the training of altar servers. Beyond the parish, I volunteer at “Food Share” in Southbridge.

How do you refresh and renew yourself as a religious and minister?

– I enjoy reading, music, spending time with my brothers in community and friends I have met along the way and an occasional beer shared with them.

What do you hope to see in the future for the congregation?

– The more I become involved in parish work, the more I see an increase in the potential possibilities of greater collaboration between the parish and the college. Both have many resources to share from the academic and theoretical to the pastoral and practical perspectives. Our people are hungry for that union, especially adults.
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