Fr. Hugh Macsherry, OFM
Growing up in a strong and active Catholic family in Baltimore, Fr. Hugh Macsherry, OFM, always felt strong ties to the Catholic Church. His parents introduced him to the Church from the very beginning. They also introduced him to their friends, many of whom were priests or nuns, who made him realize that consecrated religious life was nothing strange.
“There were some priests at the school who would invite me to think about religious life, but it wasn’t something I was interested in at the time,” said Fr. Hugh. “Growing up Catholic, it crossed my mind, but it wasn’t until I got to college that I really started to think about it seriously.”
They also introduced Fr. Hugh to the broad Church – the formal Church liturgy at the Cathedral of Mary our Queen, and the seasoned Church of life – experience at a local nursing home. Some of his earliest memories of going to Mass are from the nursing home where his grandmother organized services twice a month until her death. The faith of his family communicated a sense of ministry.
As he got older and saw one of his older brothers, Andrew, singing in the parish choir, Hugh wanted to join him. His choirmaster taught him not only about music but also about faith and worship in the Roman Catholic tradition. As they learned the music, he would often explain to them the songs and what they said about their relationship with God.
They were lessons about music and faith that he still appreciates today. “The choirmaster was a big influence in the way I really lived out his faith,” Fr. Hugh said. “He knew a lot about his faith and he read a lot. He knew it and understood it, and he taught us what it meant.” His college studies carried him to several different places and experiences.
At Boston College, he studied theology and learned social concern outside the classroom. He joined a pro-life group on campus, through which he was introduced to the Catholic Worker and the peace movement. He later transferred to the University of Maryland and began working at a socially conscious food cooperative and participated at the Catholic students’ center, where he stayed connected to his faith. He was challenged but connected. In talking with different chaplains at the University of Maryland, Fr. Hugh discerned a calling to formation to religious life. He looked at a few religious orders and the Diocese of Washington, D.C., but he felt most attracted to Holy Name Province.
“I felt the vocation directors at Holy Name Province kept in constant contact during the time I was thinking about this,” he said. “I kept in contact with guys like Br. Richard McFeely, OFM, and Fr. Francis DiSpigno, OFM.”
Since he began his formation, he has found great joy and affirmation in his decision. “As I continue my life-long discernment of vocation, I find great comfort in knowing that I am doing so with the friars of Holy Name Province,” he said. “I feel privileged to share of the sustenance of worship and community and then to carry the fruits of this life into the world.”
“God plays a role in calling a person, but it’s also a dialogue between that person and God,” he said. “When I was called, I was ready to see how holy and happy I could be with the friars.”
— This essay was written in 2006 when Fr. Hugh was in his second year of theology at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md. It appeared in the June 2006 issue of The Anthonian magazine.