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Home WHO WE ARE Assumptionists Profiles Fr. DENNIS GALLAGHER, A.A.


Fr. Dennis Gallagher, A.A.

Worcester, April 2011

Interviewer – Would you share with us a bit about your background, family and early education?

Fr. Dennis – I was born in Lowell, MA in 1948 but grew up in Chelmsford, MA, the youngest of four children. My Dad worked in Lowell for a printing company. He came from a large Irish family and died in 1968 at the end of my junior year in college. My mother was one of six girls, one of whom lived with us. My aunt was a great comfort to my mother after Dad died and took care of her until she died in 2002. I went to public school for grades 1-8 and then had the Xaverian Brothers in high school at Keith Academy in Lowell.

How did those early formative years influence your later life?

I greatly admired my older brother Tom, who was ten years older than I was. He was a three sport athlete in Lowell. Sports have continued to play a major role in my life and family as a whole. Tom died in 1999 of cancer when my mother was 91.  Except for a sister in Chicago, my family has remained here in MA some of whom also attended Assumption College.

How did you come to know the Assumptionists?

As the result of a visit by a mission counselor in high school, I applied to three colleges. It was Assumption that offered me the best package. My college years from 1965 – 1969 were happy, though challenging, since I was the youngest in my class, on the shy side and was away from home for the first time. I did receive a great education and was particularly influenced by Fr. Ernest Fortin, A.A. and Fr. Denys Gonthier, A.A. I entered the congregation in the summer of 1969 in Dedham, MA and was there only one month before we moved to Brookline where I did my novitiate. There were six of us, two Mexicans, two Canadians and two Americans. Fr. Edgar Bourque, A.A. was our novice master.

Where did your education and first assignments take you after profession?

After profession I did a M. Div. at Weston Jesuit School of Theology from 1971 – 1973 and then began a Ph.D. at BC/Andover Newton which I never finished. In 1976 I returned to Assumption and taught theology for two years, while living at Austin House.

Have you always been attracted to education as a ministry?

Yes, I have always been interested in education in all its forms. That is why I was attracted to the Assumptionists. From the beginning, I knew that the charism of the community was a good fit for me. In particular, I resonated with Augustine’s focus on wholistic formation of the mind and heart. I experienced great satisfaction as a classroom teacher, though I have been out of it for eight years now. Likewise, I loved parish work and would like to try hospital chaplaincy some day.

When did you do parish work?

Fr. Dennis – I was ordained in 1978, went back to work on my Ph.D. for a while and then was assigned to St. Anne’s in Sturbridge, MA in 1979 for only one year. Then I returned to the college for one year as a teacher, before taking on the ministry of campus ministry for five years in addition to working in the classroom. In 1987, I went back to my course work in preparation for my comps. From 1990 – 1995 I was on the college faculty full time. From 1995 – 1999 I did formation work in Brighton at St. Columb House, while serving as master of novices for a time.

Where did your assignments take you after that?

 After returning to Worcester in 1999, I taught for a year before becoming Vice President for Mission at Assumption College in Worcester, MA. The role of the office and position is to continue to ensure the Church’s Catholic identity and the congregation’s charism in the life of the college. I work closely with the President of the college and the President of Student Affaires and am involved in the interview process for hiring full time faculty and oversee campus ministry.

In addition to serving as Vice President for Mission at Assumption College, what has been your experience as U.S. Regional Superior for the congregation during these past eight years?

My eight years as Regional Superior has been filled with gratitude. Early on, we in leadership became more acutely aware of the importance of our partnering relationship with the laity. We are also looking at ourselves in relationship to the future which is unclear. As Assumptionists we must look at what is essential for us in faith, with great hope, living a life of great simplicity, recognizing small signs of success. I am so grateful and happy to be living our charism and for God’s abundant graces!

You have already mentioned your life long interest in sports. Do you have any other hobbies or interests?

Yes. While basketball was my favorite sport when I was younger, today I am an avid ‘spectator’ of my grandnephews as they participate in various athletic events. In addition, I am a loyal Red Sox fan. I also enjoy reading, music and highly value opportunities for solitude as I get older.

What are your dreams/hopes for the future of the congregation?

Though I do see hopeful signs of growth for the congregation in Vietnam, where I visited earlier this year, the Philippines and Africa, I leave the rest of the future of the community in God’s hands. It has been a blessing for me as Regional Superior to experience internationality in the region. I pray this gift will become more of a reality for the congregation in the future.

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