Once a priest always a priest

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Father John Cregan was born in Bronx, N.Y., Nov. 13 1939, to Christopher and Mary Cregan. He graduated from Fordham University and then served more than 20 years in the Marine Corps, serving tours in North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Cuba, Japan and Vietnam. He felt the call to the priesthood in 1969 while lying in a foxhole in Vietnam.

Father Cregan retired early from the Marine Corps to attend Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and was ordained by Bishop John R. Keating May 9, 1987.

His first assignment after ordination was as parochial vicar of St. Patrick Church in Chancellorsville where he served for four years, the longest he had ever stayed in one place since he was 19. He then served as parochial vicar of Church of the Nativity in Burke, 1991-93 and was made pastor of St. Elizabeth Church in Colonial Beach in 1993. He was transferred to Blessed Sacrament Church in Alexandria in 1996 where he has served as pastor for 19 years.

Starting June 25, Father Cregan will embrace the status of retired parish priest and begin residence at the St. Rose of Lima Priests Retirement Villa in Annandale. The former Marine Lieutenant Colonel has no intention of actually retiring, however. He loves being a priest too much to do that.

"I'm in the fourth quarter," Father Cregan said with a laugh. He plans to continue with his priestly duties by increasing his time as a spiritual director for the seminarians at Mount St. Mary's.

Bishop Loverde also appointed him as deputy state Chaplain to the Knights of Columbus, which will require a bit of traveling.

He hopes to celebrate Mass and hear confessions at Blessed Sacrament Church, while also celebrating Mass at Inova Alexandria Hospital. He is looking forward to having more time for quiet prayer and reflection, and while he claims to have no hobbies that he's excited about, he does predict he will get in a couple more rounds at the Marine Corps Quantico golf course.

As the saying goes "once a Marine, always a Marine." For retired Marine Lt. Col. Father Cregan, he will always be a priest and will always feel blessed that God called him to the serve His people.

Buyers can be reached at abuyers@catholicherald.com.

Father Tarsicio Buitrago will retire from active service effective June 25.

Father Buitrago was born May 23, 1940, in Tenza-Boyacá, Colombia, to Ramón Buitrago and Odilia Contreras. He attended primary school in Tenza- Boyacá, graduating from the Claretian minor seminary in Bos, in 1961.

After graduation, he was sent to Rome to study theology at the Pontificia Universita' Lateranense. He was ordained a priest in Rome Dec. 19, 1964. He returned to Colombia in 1965 to teach seminarians.

In 1970, the archbishop of Bogotá named him administrator and secretary general of the Regional Ecclesiastic Tribunal of Bogotá, a position he held for 10 years. From 1980 to 1995, he was chaplain at several state schools in Bogotá and was pastor of Santo Tomas Apóstol Church, 1978-84, and Santa Juana de Arco Church, 1985-89. Father Buitrago also studied canon law at the Pontifical Xavierian University, 1985-90.

In 1995, he arrived in the Arlington Diocese to assist with the Spanish Apostolate. Father Buitrago has ministered to the English and Spanish-speaking community as a parochial vicar of Blessed Sacrament Church in Alexandria, 1995-2001, and St. Anthony of Padua Church in Falls Church, 2002-07. He was incardinated into the Arlington Diocese Dec. 20, 2004.

Father Buitrago was parochial vicar of St. Leo the Great Church in Fairfax, 2007-09, and of St. John Bosco Church in Woodstock, 2009-10, with responsibility for the Mission of Our Lady of the Shenandoah in Basye. He has been serving as a parochial vicar of St. Philip Church in Falls Church since 2010. He will remain in residence there after his retirement. He wants to remain active ministering to parishioners.

"I will continue to serve the parish in whatever I can do," said Father Buitrago.

After five decades serving as a priest, he is thankful that he can continue serving in this special status.

Borowski can be reached at dborowski@catholicherald.com or on Twitter @DBorowskiACH.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015