Brother Bill Harkin, O.S.A.

  Brother Bill Harkin, O.S.A.

Brother Bill Harkin, O.S.A.

My parents, Anna Callahan and Con Harkin, were prime examples of living the Christian life, always respectful and accepting of people of diverse backgrounds. It was to this great couple that I was born on the First Vespers of Mother’s Day on May 11, 1940, the second of three children. Our life revolved around our parish whose leader was in office for 76 years, and after whom I took my religious name, when we still used religious names.

My brother attended West Catholic High School in Philadelphia, which was run by the Christian Brothers, but I was terrified by the brothers who had a fierce loyalty from their students and demanded respect. I was thrilled when a new high school opened in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. The community life and caring for each other that I observed in the forty some Augustinian Friars, convinced me that this is how I wanted to spend my life.

On October 28, 1958, I entered the Order as a candidate for the brotherhood, the same day that Pope John XXIII was elected. I had no idea at the time how this day would affect my life, or the life of the Church! I was received as a novice on Staten Island on March 6, 1962 in the midst of a terrible storm that devastated the East Coast, taking the Augustinian summer house in Sea Isle, New Jersey, out to sea. I professed my vows as a friar on March 7, 1963 at New Hamburg, New York.

After pursuing some courses in restaurant management at Drexel University in Philadelphia, I worked with the Holy Redeemer Sisters, and later with the Augustinian Sisters in buying the food, making the menus and supervising the kitchen at Villanova. On October 26, 1965, I was transferred to St. Rita Parish in Philadelphia. I loved the community of seven friars there, three of whom were over 80. After I made profession of solemn vows in 1976, I was transferred to St. Thomas of Villanova Parish in Rosemont, Pa., where I served as business manager and had the task of overseeing weddings at the campus church.

In 1982, I moved to St. Denis Parish in Havertown, Pa., where I was business manager and served also as moderator of the senior citizen club, assisted at funerals, promoted our liturgy and conducted burial services. During this time, I also served as a member of the Provincial Council. In 1994, I attended the Washington Theological Union in Washington, DC, for two years, after which, in 1996, I was ordained deacon by Bishop Leonard Olivier, SVD in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

I served for two years as one of three deacons at Our Mother of Consolation Parish in Chestnut Hill, Pa., and in 1998, when our Province assumed responsibility for two parishes and a retreat center in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, I served as assistant director, and later director, of Living Waters Catholic Reflection Center for thirteen years, and was pastoral associate of St. Margaret of Scotland Parish. Though the area was only 3% Catholic, the community was very welcoming. Meeting people of all faiths, and no faith, from around the world, was a fantastic experience.

I returned to the Philadelphia area in 2011, to serve as deacon at Our Mother of Good Counsel Parish in Bryn Mawr, Pa., where I continue to minister still.