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Friar Stories: Journeys to Franciscan Life

Fr. Daniel Hurley, OFM

A native of Albany, N.Y., Fr. Daniel Hurley, OFM was received into the Franciscans in 1940 and ordained in 1945. Fr. Daniel has served at St. Bonaventure University as well as Siena and Holy Name Colleges, prior to his present position at Mt. Irenaeus.

When I was in elementary school, one of the biblical stories that stayed with me was the one of Samuel. Samuel heard God calling him and he repeatedly ran to the priest Eli saying, ”You called me?” After the third time, Eli realized it was God calling Samuel. He sent him back, instructing him next time to say, “Here I am, Lord. Your servant is listening.” I remember I thought that was a very amusing story. The story of Samuel is the story of a vocation. In a sense, it is the story of my vocation.

I was a young man attending St. Bonaventure College in Allegany, N.Y. I had the idea that I wanted to be a teacher and maybe a priest. I spoke to my parish priest about my desires. He suggested becoming an “Order Priest” rather than a diocesan one. As a 19-year-old, I agreed. I began to observe more closely the friars who were teaching me back at St. Bonaventure. I was impressed by their sincerity and by their caring for the students.

My senior year, I approached the college chaplain and spoke about my interest in becoming a friar. He encouraged me to continue to seek guidance in prayer. My prayer was, “Here I am, Lord, if you want me.”

I was accepted by Holy Name Province and entered the Novitiate in Paterson, N.J., on August 12, 1940, two months after graduating from St. Bonaventure College. All through the year of novitiate, I thought and prayed, “Here I am Lord. If you want me, keep me.” The duration of our novitiate was a year and a day.

We made our First Profession of vows on August 13, 1941. We promised to observe the Rule of the Order of Friars Minor: “The Rule and life of the
Friars Minor is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by living in obedience, without property and in chastity.” I went to study theology at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C.

The years of theology passed quickly. Our friendships and support of each other enabled us to endure a heavy academic schedule and to progress on our spiritual journey together. I made my Solemn (final) Profession on September 17, 1944.

At the time of my ordination on June17, 1945, the candidates to the priesthood were invited to suggest three areas of ministry to which they would like to be assigned after ordination. My choices, in order, were the missions, teaching and parish work. I never heard a word again about my first choice, the missions. “Here I am, Lord.” Through the years, I welcomed many changes of assignments and apostolates.

I served as teacher, administrator and even procurator (business manager). My ministry in the academic world brought about much spirituality, enjoyment and shock. Shock from changes in assignments, duties and titles, as well as the different changes of atmospheres at the colleges over time. The unrest and protest of the late 1960s and early 1970s did not spare the schools of Holy Name Province. To each surprise, my constant prayer was, “Here I am, Lord.”

Since 1983, Mt. Irenaeus, a retreat house in Western New York, has been my home. What an extraordinary blessing this ministry has been. It seems to me that my experience at Mt. Irenaeus is a culmination of my life-long desire to be able to be with the Lord. I feel that I am with the Lord through the many, many people who “come to the Mountain.”

Many different people from different backgrounds and with different needs find their needs satisfied at the Mountain. I am delighted to be part of that experience. In my daily response to God, “Here I am, Lord,” I recognize how God makes use of each of us to bring the message of his love to others. The Lord does use each of us for his purposes. I marvel at how the Lord has used me for his purposes, in ways that I never imagined.

To say that the Lord “used me” is not a negative attitude. It is an expression of surprise. I never would have imagined the Lord using me to teach Philosophy, to teach History, to teach English, to be a procurator, to be a disciplinarian, to be an academic counselor. But that is what happened to my response, “Here I am, Lord.” All these ways of serving young people are ways the Lord has “used me” to bring his love to others. And the Lord is still using me as an instrument of his love in my willingness to be available to those who come to Mt. Irenaeus.

—This essay was written in 1999 when Fr. Dan was serving at Mt.Irenaeus. It appeared in the March 1999 issue of The Anthonian magazine.

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