Congratulations to priests in the Archdiocese of Portland celebrating their 60th, 50th and 25th jubilees.
Here are their brief biographies and reflections on the priesthood.
Domincan Fr. Gerald Buckley
Marking 60 years as a priest, Dominican Father Gerald Buckley was born in Los Angeles in 1931, attended Catholic elementary and high schools and then Santa Clara University.
He entered the Dominicans in 1951. He studied philosophy at St. Albert’s College in Oakland and theology in Rome and then Germany, where he was ordained July 25, 1957. After serving as an instructor of theology at Dominican College in San Rafael, and at St. Mary’s College of California, he was assigned to be one of the first Dominican chaplains at St. Thomas More Parish, serving the University of Oregon. He later served at Arizona State University and Southern Oregon University.
In addition to his work as director of the Dominican preaching band, he was prior and superior of many communities, including St. Dominic in Los Angeles, St. Albert in Oakland and Holy Rosary in Portland, where he is now retired.
“It certainly went fast,” Father Buckley says of his ministry. He loves his religious order, especially sitting down to talk philosophy and theology with other friars, perhaps with a drink in hand.
In his homilies, he aims to awaken people to what he calls the “big truth”: We are both natural and supernatural beings, but we have lost our super-nature. The only path back, Father Buckley, says, is to do what Christ told us to do.
— Ed Langlois
Dominican Fr. Paschal Salisbury
Ordained June 16, 1967, Dominican Father Paschal Salisbury was 39 at the time. Some of his experience had been hard, which led him to a life of ministering to the sick and dying.
Grandson of a slave, he served in the military and attended Kansas University in Lawrence and the University of San Francisco, where he graduated in 1957. He had trouble getting a job, perhaps because of racial discrimination. He finally landed a post with the City of San Francisco and joined St. Dominic Parish, where he discerned a calling to religious life. He wrote to monasteries, but did not hear back. Meanwhile, his pastor encouraged him to consider the Dominicans.
After ordination, he attempted to find work as a hospital chaplain, but was rejected. To bolster his chances, he went through rigorous clinical pastoral education and was hired at hospitals in Missouri, Minnesota and California before coming to the Veterans Administration Domiciliary in southern Oregon. He says hospital ministry is a good way to touch the deep spiritual part of people’s lives.
He lives at Holy Rosary Parish in Portland, where he hears confessions and says Mass. Despite past difficulties, Father Salisbury is happy with his life and would do it again.
Franciscan Fr. Herb Wheatley
From a young age, Herb Wheatley says he was influenced by the priests and sisters in his life. The Cleveland, Ohio, native attended Catholic grade school and spent his freshman year of high school studying at a school run by the Marianists.
“They were very loving and caring for me personally,” he says. “It was because of their influence on my life that I saw the priesthood as a possible part of my own life.”
After high school, he began seminary studies at a minor seminary in Westmont, Illinois. He was ordained a Franciscan priest June 13, 1967, at the age of 26.
As a Franciscan, Father Wheatley went on to serve in parishes throughout Illinois, Indiana, California, Washington and Oregon. He left the Franciscans in 2000 and incardinated in the Archdiocese of Portland in 2003.
Though Father Wheatley has worked in both parishes and hospitals, the majority of his work was in hospitals. He served as a chaplain at Providence Portland Medical Center from 1987 to 2015.
“It was more rewarding to me to deal with the sick on a one-on-one basis,” he says. He was able to provide those in crisis with his presence and with the sacraments. This is one of the things he misses most in retirement, he says.
— Sarah Wolf
Fr. Noel Hickie
As a young boy, Noel Hickie was always toying with the idea of knowing the whys of life. And so, with the encouragement of priests and his family, he entered the seminary. The Irishman was ordained at St. Mary Cathedral in Kilkenny, Ireland, June 11, 1967.
At the time of his ordination, the priests in Father Hickie’s class could go wherever they wanted.
He had a relative who worked as a priest in Oregon and a fellow seminarian who had lived in Oregon as well. And so, the young Father Hickie decided to become a priest for Oregon’s Diocese of Baker.
Father Hickie spent the next 17 years working in parishes around the diocese including Klamath Falls, the Baker Cathedral, Lakeview, La Grande and then nine years in Jordan Valley.
It was in the isolated town of Jordan Valley that Father Hickie says he was finally able to start standing on his own two feet. He negotiated a transfer to the Archdiocese of Portland where he could pursue a graduate program in psychology at the University of Oregon.
After working at St. Alice Parish in Eugene and teaching at Lane Community College, Father Hickie became a chaplain for Sacred Heart Peace Health Hospital in Eugene.
— Sarah Wolf
Fr. John McGrann
John McGrann wanted to be a priest since he was a little boy, and so he entered the seminary just out of eighth grade.
“But I realized what the priesthood was really about years later, of course,” says Father McGrann. He was ordained to serve others.
In his hometown of Pomeroy, Washington, Father McGrann was ordained a priest May 21, 1967, for the Diocese of Spokane.
He served the Diocese of Spokane in various parishes as well as in Marriage Encounter and as the family life director. In the 1980s, he served persons affected with HIV and their caregivers as the founder and director of Kairos Support for Caregivers in the San Francisco Archdiocese. In 1998, Father McGrann came to the Archdiocese of Portland. He has since worked at St. Jude Parish in Eugene, Holy Trinity Parish in Beaverton and St. Charles Parish in Portland. After retiring from parish work, Father McGrann began working as the pastoral care coordinator at Portland’s Laurelhurst Village.
“I have been so honored to journey with many as they prepared for their death and died,” says Father McGrann.
Since leaving that position last year, Father McGrann continues to aid various parishes, including Portland’s Madeleine Parish where he leads a faith-sharing group and participates in the parish prison ministry.
— Sarah Wolf
Dominican Fr. David Geib
Dominican Father David Geib was ordained June 16, 1967, having joined the Order of Preachers because of its intellectual prowess. A boy intent on discovering truth, he was sent to boarding schools and then went on to Cornell University and the University of California, Berkeley.
“My background was heavily head and not much heart,” he admits.
Three decades of campus ministry got his heart into the act. He served as chaplain at Arizona State University, University of Oregon, University of Arizona, Southern Oregon University, St. Mary’s College in California, University of California Riverside, Stanford and Occidental College.
His heart grew more as he became a spiritual director, earning a certificate in the ministry. He used the wisdom to help form men entering the Dominicans and served at retreat houses, including St. Benedict Lodge in McKenzie Bridge, where he now lives. A longtime backpacker, he asked to be sent to the rustic site, which hosts retreats for Catholic schools, addiction recovery groups and others.
For his jubilee, Father Geib has reached out via social media to friends made during ministry. He is proud, he says, to be part of a class with friars who may not be flashy, but who are “so solid.”
— Ed Langlois
Msgr. James Ninh Pham
In September 1975, Msgr. James Ninh Pham — a native of South Vietnam — arrived in the Archdiocese of Portland just months after Saigon fell to advancing North Vietnamese troops. He left a life filled with hard work and danger. While riding his motorcycle in 1972, Msgr. Pham was wounded by an exploding bomb.
Incardinated in the Archdiocese of Portland in 1988 and named a monsignor 20 years later, Msgr. Pham says his years of ministry have had “many highs and lows,” but that he feels peace in his heart “because God protected me all this time.”
Msgr. Pham, who speaks English, French, Vietnamese and “a little Latin,” attended St. Joseph Seminary in the Archdiocese of Saigon. He was ordained April 27, 1967, and earned a master’s degree in sociology and psychology from the University of Saigon two years later. As a young priest, Msgr. Pham was pastor of a large parish in Vietnam while simultaneously serving as a military chaplain for the South Vietnamese army and as a school principal.
Once in Oregon, Msgr. Pham ministered to the Vietnamese community in Salem before aiding Vietnamese refugees living across the region. He also served as pastor of Our Lady of Lavang in Portland and as episcopal vicar of the Southeast Asian Vicariate.
“I don’t work for me,” said Msgr. Pham, reflecting on his vocation. “I work for the people.”
— Katie Scott
Fr. David Cullings
On the day of his first Communion, a little boy in Omaha, Nebraska, turned to his best friend and whispered: “I’m going to be a priest.”
It wasn’t an obvious vocation for a child raised in a family that was culturally Catholic but not pious. The draw? “I thought it would be fun,” said Father David Cullings. A half-century later, the longtime priest and educator said his vocation has indeed “been a ball.”
Ordained a Benedictine monk May 13, 1967, at Mount Michael Abbey in Elkhorn, Nebraska, Father Cullings planned to be a math teacher. After attending Creighton University in Omaha, he received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study mathematics at Oregon State University. Father Cullings was incardinated in the Archdiocese of Portland in 1979. He served as associate pastor and pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Salem, Sacred Heart Parish in Newport and St. Peter Parish in Eugene.
Though he ministered at parishes for 25 years, Father Cullings said he “always had a hand in school work.” He taught at Sacred Heart Academy in Salem, served as Newman Center chaplain at Willamette University, and taught at O’Hara School and Marist High School, both in Eugene. Father Cullings also served as chaplain at a Catholic high school in Hawaii. He retired after two decades at Marist, where he was a beloved math teacher, chaplain and mentor.
The priest now is busy tutoring GED students and volunteering with Catholic Community Services of Lane County.
“I’m working on getting letters of recommendation for heaven,” he laughed.
— Katie Scott
Msgr. Timothy (Tim) Murphy
In many ways, Msgr. Tim Murphy is synonymous with Central Catholic High School in Portland. He began teaching at the prep school in 1968, the year following his May 20, 1967, ordination. His mantra for ministry is taken from St. John XXIII: “See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little.”
The Portland native graduated from Central Catholic in 1958 and earned a master’s degree in education attended St. Thomas Seminary in Kenmore, Washington. He holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Portland.
As a young priest, Msgr. Murphy internalized Vatican II’s aim to “open the windows and let in the fresh air” to the Catholic Church, he said, quoting St. John XXIII. “It was a breathtaking time in a literal and figurative sense, and I wanted to be part of it,” said Msgr. Murphy.
While working at Central Catholic and Regis High School in Stayton, where he was principal from 1983-90, Msgr. Murphy resided at parishes in Portland, Milwaukie, Lake Oswego and Stayton. At Central Catholic he spent time as counselor, teacher, principal and president.
The priest, named a monsignor in 2008, has a passion for travel and counts Russia, Israel, India, Austria, Germany and Mexico among his wanderings.
Quick to deflect attention, Msgr. Murphy said he’s been moved by the witness of those he’s encountered during his half-century as a priest. “Family, friends, priests and religious sisters, Central Catholic — they have been my example through the years.”
— Katie Scott
Fr. Terry O’Connell
“Once you get to know him, you see his love for the church and sacred Scripture,” says Jean DeLaney of Father Terry O’Connell, pastor of St. Juan Diego Parish in Portland’s far western reaches. “He has a special, very practical way of teaching the Scriptures.”
DeLaney, director of religious education and youth ministry at St. Juan Diego, says that parishioners know the soft-spoken priest as a leader who does everything he can to make the church’s requirements work for people.
“He’s respectful of both the church and the people he serves,” says DeLaney
Father O’Connell, 62, comes from Minot, North Dakota, and was ordained Sept. 5, 1992.
He has served as a deacon at St. Anne, Gresham; as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart, Medford; as misionero at Misión Santo Niño de Atocha in Chihuahua, Mexico; as a military chaplain in Guantanamo, Cuba; and as pastor at St. Monica in Coos Bay, for the parishes in McMinnville, Sheridan and Grand Ronde. He briefly filled in at St. Peter Parish in Newberg.
Father O’Connell speaks Spanish, and the Spanish-speaking community has grown since he came to St. Juan Diego Parish in 2013. “He knows the traditions of the population and he respects them,” says DeLaney.
— Kristen Hannum
Fr. Paul Jeyamani
A German missionary priest, Jesuit Father Clement Monte, was Father Paul Jeyamani’s inspiration for his vocation. As a boy, Father Jeyamani would dress up in a cassock and pretend to be a priest. No longer play acting, Father Jeyamani now also serves a flock far from his home.
Father Jeyamani grew up next door to a church in his home in South India. The pastor was Jesuit Father Clement Monte from Germany. Father Monte talked with people in the streets and played sports with the children.
Father Jeyamani remembers his parents’ words about the Jesuit’s sacrifices, how the man had left his family, his native foods and culture to come serve the people in a distant land.
“Compared to what he did, I’m doing nothing,” Father Jeyamani says. “For instance, I can talk with my family every day over Skype.”
Father Jeyamani was ordained April 26, 1992, for the Archdiocese of Madurai, South India. A teacher at St. Paul Regional Theological Seminary in Tamil Nadu, he assisted nearby parishes with preaching and pastoral duties. Father Jeyamani has served 10 years in the Archdiocese of Portland: in Sublimity, Coos Bay and now at All Saints Parish in Portland.
“I’m so grateful that I can be a part of the parish’s 100th anniversary,” he says. “I love it. It’s a great parish.”
— Kristen Hannum