Rev. David Arthur, C.S.C. Reflects On His Priesthood for 60th Jubilee Celebration

March 24, 2016


Fr. David Arthur, C.S.C.

I was born in Pittsburgh on Aug. 6, 1927, the eldest of the three children of David and Kathryn Arthur. During my high school years, I felt an attraction to the priesthood, which I attribute to the devotion to the Mass that I witnessed in my family; to the 12 years of parochial school I spent under the direction of the Sisters of Mercy; and to the example of loving service shown by the two zealous priests who ministered to the parish during my formative years.

I owe my introduction to Holy Cross to Sr. Benedicta, the school principal. She had already recommended the Congregation to four other students, all of whom had already begun their illustrious careers in Holy Cross: Paul Beichner as dean of the Graduate School at Notre Dame; Leo Flood as president and William Scanlon as vice president of King’s College; and Lawrence Grainer as Archbishop of Dacca. She arranged for a visit from the vocation director, the first Holy Cross religious I had ever met.

When I sought advice from one of our parish priests, he had only praise for the Congregation. It seems that he had attended a football game at Notre Dame on a rare Saturday off and after the game, one of the religious, seeing him alone in the crowd, invited him to supper at the community residence. What he experienced there left him with a quite positive opinion of Holy Cross. He told me, “You couldn’t go wrong joining that great bunch of guys.” Quite a generalization from just one incident, but it certainly has proven to be true for me. In 1945, I entered the seminary at Notre Dame.

Several years later, I was required to make another important decision. While I was in Moreau Seminary, an Eastern Vice Province was established, and, being from its territory, I was asked if I wished to join it. Since I had never been east of Pittsburgh and all my community experiences and my closest friends were in Indiana, I just presumed I would remain in that province. But when I casually mentioned the matter to my spiritual director, he surprised me by advising, in effect, “Go East, young man, go East.” He explained that I would have many more opportunities to engage in a variety of meaningful and interesting ministries in a new province where the positions of authority and responsibility were not already set. I followed his advice and have never regretted my decision.

At ordination in 1954, I was assigned to Stonehill College in Massachusetts, a struggling young institution with fewer than 300 students and no endowment. This placement was temporary, I was told by my provincial. Since I was a Pennsylvanian, I would be moved to King’s College in that state as soon as a replacement for me at Stonehill was available. But a move never came, nor did I ever ask for one. Except for two short absences for graduate studies, one to Catholic University for an M.A. in philosophy and the other to the University of Michigan for a Ph.D. in college administration, I have remained on the Easton property for my whole priesthood.

But while the place may not have changed, my ministries have been as varied and interesting as my spiritual director had predicted. Over the years, I have served the College as a teacher Rev. David J. Arthur, C.S.C. 20 of philosophy, mathematics, psychology and something called “pulpit eloquence.” I have served as director of intramural athletics, head of the library, affirmative action officer, director of institutional research, dormitory prefect, overseer for the construction of two major buildings and as academic dean. Often, especially in the early days, I held two or three of these positions at the same time. For my years of service, the College has honored me with two awards. At its 50th anniversary in 1998, I received a Moreau Medallion, awarded to 50 administrators, faculty, staff, alumni and benefactors “who were deemed by their peers to have contributed significantly to Stonehill’s development.” And recently, one of the roads on the campus was named “Fr. David Arthur Way.”

In addition to my College responsibilities, I have regularly assisted in parishes on weekends and in the summer. I have served as chaplain in two houses of the Holy Cross Brothers and as counselor in the seminary. After enjoying a one-day retirement from the College in 2000, I was asked to take over the Province Archives, a position I held for 12 years. This time, at age 85, the retirement held.

A satisfying advantage of my long stay in Easton has been my membership in a variety of fairly large communities of Holy Cross religious of both societies. These have provided me with the stability of lifestyle, opportunity for regular community liturgy and prayer, intellectual and spiritual stimulation and the companionship of agreeable and supportive confreres.

I thank God for His grace and guidance in what has been for me a happy and fulfilling life and for blessing me with sufficient health and strength to continue in His holy service even after 60 years in the vineyard.

-Fr. David Arthur, C.S.C.- written in 2014 in celebration of his 60th jubilee.