Fr. Mark Francis, CSV, professed his first vows as a Viatorian 45 years ago and since that time, his ministry has taken him around the world, literally. From teaching in Las Vegas and later Bogotá, Colombia, to spending 12 years in Rome as the Superior General of the Viatorians, to serving these last seven years as president of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, it’s been a richly rewarding ministry.

Fr. Francis distributes communion to a classmate.

Just last month, he reflected on his life’s blessings and the place where his vocation started more than 50 years ago: Saint Viator High School.

Fr. Francis and his classmates from the Class of 1971 returned for their 50th reunion earlier this month — and it began with a Mass in the Alumni Memorial Chapel celebrated by Fr. Francis and Fr. Daniel Lydon, CSV, ’73, President of the school.

In his homily, Fr. Francis shared a portion of T.S. Eliot’s poem, Little Gidding, that reflects on time, looking back and coming to grips with change:

The liturgy included remembering the class members they had lost.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we began
And know the place for the first time

“What is the most important thing we know about this place, Saint Viator and Sacred Heart of Mary, now, after 50 years of exploration,” Fr. Francis asked them in his homily. “While I can’t speak for everyone, the most important thing I know is gratitude at having arrived at this stage in my life, with a deep, abiding sense of God’s presence and love experienced over these many years.”

Fr. Dan Lydon concelebrated the Mass.

Fr. Francis returned to the area from Washington DC, where he is teaching a one semester doctoral seminar on liturgy and culture at Catholic University of America.

“As we mark these 50 years — after all that we’ve experienced — we’re invited to marvel at the unearned and amazing love that God lavishes on us, enabling us to live in joy, hope and thankfulness,” Fr. Francis concluded. “In returning back to where we started 50 years ago, we not only know this place for the first time, we also receive the gift of knowing ourselves in a new way.”