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Local Priests Mark Jubilee Anniversaries

The following diocesan and religious order priests are celebrating special jubilees this year. Bishop Paul S. Loverde celebrated a special anniversary Mass on May 17 at St. James Church in Falls Church.

Fifty Years

Fr. Cornelius A. O'Brien Father Cornelius O'Brien was born Jan. 16, 1932, in Ireland. He attended St. Patrick Seminary in Carlow, Ireland, and was ordained by Bishop Thomas Keogh on June 5, 1955. He arrived in the Diocese of Arlington in 1976 and was excardinated from the Diocese of Alexandria in Louisiana and incardinated in the Arlington Diocese in 1979. He was assigned as parochial vicar at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More, 1975-79, and St. Agnes Parish, 1979-80, both in Arlington. He was pastor of St. Lawrence Parish in Alexandria, 1980-83, and St. Timothy Parish in Chantilly, 1983-99. Father O'Brien has been pastor of St. James Parish in Falls Church since 1999. He completed coursework for a doctorate in philosophy at Catholic University in Washington. From 1976-79, he was director of the Notre Dame Institute, now the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College, in Alexandria. He was also a chaplain at Christendom College in Front Royal. Father O'Brien was a co-founder of the Adoremus Society, which promotes renewal of the liturgy.

Fr. Richard Farmer, O.P. Dominican Father Richard Farmer was ordained a priest on June 10, 1955. Father Farmer is from Omaha, Neb., where he graduated from Creighton Preparatory School and went to Iowa State University where he studied electrical engineering. He left school during World War II when he served in the Army Signal Corps in New Guinea and the Philippines. He returned to Iowa State after the war and earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. He worked in New Jersey after graduation where he became interested in the Dominican Order. He studied at Providence College for a year and then at Winona, Minn., River Forest, Ill., Oakland, Calif., and Dubuque, Iowa. He received master's degrees in philosophy and theology. He was ordained while in California by Bishop Hugh Donahue, Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco, in St. Mary Cathedral in San Francisco. His first assignment was to Nigeria where he served for 33 years. For 12 of those years he taught philosophy at the State University of Oyo State, the University of Ife. He later served as pastor and prior of St. Dominics, Yaba, Lagos State. When he returned to the U.S., he served as procurator of the Dominican Priory in River Forest, Ill., for eight years. At that time he also served as assistant Catholic chaplain at O'Hare International Airport. Father Farmer came to the Washington area three years ago and continues his airport chaplaincy, serving as chaplain at both Reagan National Airport and Dulles Airport. He is currently in residence at St. Dominic's Priory in Washington.

Fr. Paschal Balkan, O.C.S.O. Born in South Boston in 1927, Father Paschal Balkan attended public schools and graduated from South Boston High School before joining the Navy. After a year with the Navy, he worked for several years before entering Valley Falls Monastery in Rhode Island in 1949. He was ordained on June 11, 1955, in Spencer, Mass. In 1956, Father Balkan was transferred to the Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Cross in Berryville. He studied at Gregorian University in Rome from 1963-65 and returned to Berryville. In the 1970s, he served as a parish priest at St. Lawrence Parish in Alexandria and St. John Parish in McLean before retuning to Holy Cross Abby where he still resides.

Fr. Christopher D. Petrosky, T.O.R. Father Petrosky is a graduate of St. Francis University and St. Francis Seminary in Loretto, Pa., and earned his master's degree in sociology from Catholic University in Washington. During his 50 years of priestly ministry, Father Petrosky has served in schools, in parish ministry and in hospital chaplaincies. He served on the faculties of St. Thomas More High School in Philadelphia and Bishop Egan High School in Fairless Hills, Pa. In addition to parochial ministry in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, he served as assistant pastor of St. Benedict Church and St. John the Evangelist Church in Pittsburgh, Annunciation Church in Hollywood, Fla., St. Thomas Church in Fort Worth, Texas, and St. Joseph Church in Zephyr Hills, Fla. He served as hospital chaplain in Opa Locka, Florida. From 1986-96, he was assigned to Mount Assisi Friary in Loretto, Pa., and offered sacramental ministry to local parishes and convents. Since 1996, he has been assigned to Sacred Heart Friary in White Post.

Twenty-Five Years

Fr. Christopher M. Buckner Father Christopher M. Buckner was born June 3, 1952, in New York, N.Y. He graduated from high school at the Cathedral Preparatory Seminary in New York in 1970. He earned an associate degree from Manhattan Community College and his bachelor?s degree from Hunter College in New York in 1974. He attended Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and was ordained a priest by former Arlington Bishop Thomas J. Welsh on May 10, 1980. He earned his master's degree from Mount St. Mary's in moral theology in 1984. Father Buckner served as a deacon at St. Leo the Great Parish in Fairfax the year before his priestly ordination. His first assignment as a priest was at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Winchester where he served from 1980-85. He was associate pastor of Church of the Nativity in Burke until 1990 when he moved to Holy Spirit Parish in Annandale. From 1992 to 2000 Father Buckner served as pastor of St. Mary Parish in Fredericksburg. Father Buckner has worked in Catholic education for many years. He served as an instructor at the Notre Dame Institute (now Notre Dame Graduate School) in Alexandria in 1984. He has worked with Catholic Distance University in Leesburg since it began in 1984 as the Catholic Home Study Institute. He wrote the first course manuals and worked part time until 2000 when he accepted a full time position as undergraduate dean and moved to St. Veronica Parish in Chantilly where he now resides.

Fr. Richard J. Dair Father Richard Dair earned his bachelor's degree from Villanova University in Philadelphia. He attended Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg and was ordained a priest in 1980. Before his ordination, he worked in management and administrative capacities for several blue chip corporations. He served his diaconate year at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington. His first priestly assignment was at St. Bernadette Parish in Springfield where he served as associate pastor until 1983. His following assignments were at St. Louis Parish in Alexandria (1983-85), St. Thomas a Becket Parish in Reston (1985), St. Leo Parish in Fairfax (1985-86), Holy Spirit Parish in Annandale (1986-90) and Church of the Nativity in Burke (1990-91). Father Dair retired in 1991 and lives in Fairfax.

Fr. John T. O'Hara Born in Portsmouth, Ohio, on Feb. 12, 1950, Father John T. O'Hara grew up in Falls Church, one of eight children. He graduated from Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington in 1968. After receiving bachelor's degrees in government and politics and another in history from George Mason University in Fairfax, he worked for the Fairfax County Department of Consumer Affairs from 1974-76. He studied theology at the Washington Theological Union, and was ordained by former Arlington Bishop Thomas J. Welsh May 10, 1980. He went on to earn a master's of divinity from the Washington Theological Union in 1982. His diaconate assignment was at St. Mark Parish in Vienna. He was parochial vicar at St. Louis Parish in Alexandria, 1980-84, and St. Rita Parish in Alexandria from 1984-88, when he was appointed director of Catholic Charities where he served for 10 years. He served at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More from 1988-93. In 1993, Father O'Hara was named pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Arlington. In 1997, he moved to Holy Family Parish. The following year, after overseeing the 50th anniversary of Catholic Charities in Northern Virginia, he stepped down as executive director, remaining as a consultor to the agency. In 2000, he was assigned to minister to the diocese's two missionary parishes in Banica. He returned to the diocese in 2004 and has been serving as parochial vicar at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Arlington since.

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2005