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Thank You, Father Croghan!


Earlier this month, College Chaplain Jeff McArn wrote to the campus community with some news: “After 38 years of faithfully offering care – spiritual and otherwise – for our campus community, Fr. John Croghan, our Catholic Chaplain and priest at St. Mary’s Church in Clinton, retired this week. He was the first to welcome me into the chaplaincy at Hamilton College, and he has been my consistent colleague over all my years here, and I join a mighty chorus of people who will deeply miss his presence among us. He will not be too far away, taking up residence in Utica, so we wish him every blessing of retirement, with hopes his wry smile and quick wit will return to campus frequently!”

Word spread about Father Croghan’s retirement and tributes poured in on Facebook from the Hamilton alumni community. Here is a sampling:

I still remember meeting Fr. Croghan at Accepted Students Open House in 1996. From gatherings with Newman Council at Carmella’s to celebrating a Hamilton tradition of Trust Treat to coming together to worship in the Chapel, Fr. Croghan was there for us on the Hill. And he’s been there for us after our time on the Hill. “Crogs” performed our wedding ceremony and baptized both of my children. We will miss his laugh, stories, and messages of faith on Sundays. — Sara Rizzo Ziesenitz ’00


It was truly a blessing that Fr. Croghan brought together a community of college students every Sunday. Even after a late Saturday night, we showed up because Fr. Croghan made mass special. I wish him a wonderful retirement. — Margaret Mary Surowka ’87


Congratulations, Father Croghan! Your wisdom, kindness, and abundantly generous spirit were some of the most significant aspects of my life at Hamilton College. I’ll never forget when I came to you for confession during one of my lowest points in my senior year at Hamilton, and you told me that my penance would be to go into the Glen, find a tree, and yell at it. And I’ll always remember working with you and others to play music for mass. The next Newman chaplain has colossal shoes to fill. Here’s to a restful retirement, and God bless you. — Dominic Veconi ’15


I remember comforting conversations with Fr. Croghan in days following September 11th, but my happiest memories are being told to close my eyes and listen to the story books he would read during the mass before finals. Happy retirement, Father, you’ve served our community so well. — Lizzie Padin Storer ’03


Father Croghan, you walked with me on my spiritual journey through college, married me to the love of my life, Paul Gillespie [’84], and continued to guide and inspire me every time I saw you after graduation. You lightened my burdens, made me smile, reminded me of God’s loving presence — and yours — in my life. God bless you in retirement! — Susan Fowley Gillespie ’86


I don’t think I ever told you this, Father, but for probably my first year, at least, at Hamilton, Sundays were my favorite day. As much as I ended up loving my time on the Hill, I had an exceptionally difficult transition to college. I was lonelier than I had ever felt, and have ever felt since, but Sundays I had a community. Sundays, I had a space that was welcoming and familiar. Church in the Chapel kept me grounded week to week. Thank you for all your steady insights, for your reassuring presence perched casually on a pew during your homilies, for the Newman meetings and dinners, for the beautiful Christmas Masses, and for endlessly cheering us on. Happy, Blessed Retirement, Father. — Lindsay Kramer Custer ’13 


Congrats to Fr. Croghan on his retirement. Hard to imagine a better fit for a collegiate congregation. I had the privilege to lead the music for a couple of years and I’ll always remember him giving me a wink and asking me for a little “traveling music”. I might just play a little this afternoon in his honor. — Steve Mare ’87


Father Croghan, thank you for your friendship and mentorship across my four years at Hamilton. Newman Council was one of the best parts of my time at Hamilton, and your warmth, kindness, and humor are what made the club what it was. You are the reason why I was able to hold on to my faith through college and into my adult life and why I am getting married in the Catholic Church next year. You made such a positive impact on so many young people, and Hamilton will never find another Newman chaplain like you. — Kathleen Herlihy ’14


Thank you Father Croghan! You were such an inspiration, and a supportive rock for me in some of my most challenging times at Hamilton. I will always remember your final homily at mass during my senior year. You told the story (and used the prop) of the stuffed/toy dog. You told us how leaving Hamilton was like a child letting go of their favorite stuffed animal. That it was hard to let it go. That we took comfort in it, and wished that we never had to give it up. But, that in order to grow and embark on the next chapter of our lives, that we needed to let it go. However, like the child and their stuffed animal, it would always be waiting for us when we returned home to give us the love and remind us of the cherished memories of the past. Thank you again for everything! — Ned Ginty ’93


Congratulations on your retirement, Father! You have been my favorite priest since the moment I met you and the sole reason I went to church every Sunday during my time at Hamilton. I loved being a part of Newman Council, Trust Treat was one of the highlights my 4 years. I wish more leaders in the church were like you. Thank you so much for all that you taught us, and for all of the laughs. I'll never forget the time you suggested we all vote for you for pope during your sermon. I couldn't have asked for a more caring, welcoming, considerate, reasonable, thoughtful chaplain. Enjoy your retirement, and I hope it brings you peace, and relaxation. — Emily Tompsett ’13


Congratulations on your retirement! Thank you for marrying us in 1992 and eliminating sexist language from the ceremony as well as suggesting our children would need a perspective in addition to strict Catholicism in their upbringing. I think that has served all four of them well. — Janet Olsen Ryan ’90, P’21


Congratulations Father. I remember the first time walking into his office in 1996 and seeing all of the postcards in his office from everyone who thought of him when they were away from the Hill. — Jim Lempenau ’00


All four years I was a Sunday regular and participated in Newman Council. Friday night pasta dinners during Lent and helping organize Trust Treat were my favorite events. Father Croghan was so welcoming and to this day in my church group when we share our experiences I rave about my college years with him. At the beginning on each Mass he would ask us to take off our coats and “stay awhile” and then greet the people around us. He also connected us with people in the community who needed help like a quadriplegic gentleman who needed help when his aide was off. My faith grew and I became a better person because of him. God Bless You! — Andy Agnello Pettinato ’94


Wow! Blessings and love on Father Croghan’s retirement. Also my unfailing appreciation for his presence on campus and my life. I have so many amazing memories of Sunday Masses, Trust Treat, Newman dinners, and the Christmas services that I will carry with me always. When I got engaged, there was no one I wanted to marry us other than him and was so grateful he was a part of our day (still going strong after 27 years)! Be well, be blessed, and enjoy the next chapter, my friend. — Michelle Smolen Tarby ’90


Father Croghan arrived on the Hill at the start of my sophomore year and immediately became a spiritual leader and friend. In those few years, we shared Communion as well as backgammon, Ho Hos, and beer, often in the company of Meg Love ’83. I count him among my closest Hamily, and the gifts he shared with me then continue to enrich my life daily, not least introducing me to [my husband] Andrew Winner ’84. — Ann Adler ’85, P’19,’23


Such a wonderful human being and a wonderful servant to the students, the campus, and the community. His Christmas mass was a warm, welcoming foretaste of home in the depths of winter finals week. Many blessings to you, Father Croghan, and hearty congratulations on your retirement. — Andrew Cole ’01


I have many memories of you during my time on the Hill from 1983-1987, during which I served as Newman Council president and was a member of the folk group for Sunday 1 p.m. Mass ... but one memory stands out. I was walking back to Bundy via Bristol at the end of a particularly bad evening freshman year. You spotted me (and no doubt my distress) and invited me to sit and talk with you in what was then the Pub (the Hub?). I cried and cried while you listened and offered me comfort and prayed with me. I might have given up on Hamilton around that time, but you offered perspective and healing that helped me through. I don't know that I ever thanked you ... but thanks, and Godspeed! — Karen Read Kuppinger ’87

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