Monsignor Lajiness to Assume Seminary Rectorship on May 5
The entire seminary community filled the Bishop Gallagher Parlor on the afternoon of February 13 to hear Archbishop Allen Vigneron make the announcement all had been waiting for. Who would succeed beloved and respected Msgr. Jeffrey Monforton as the next rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary?
Monsignor had informed the community on December 5 that he would be completing his six-year tenure as rector and president on May 5, and had been appointed pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Rochester, the archdiocese’s largest parish. There was surprise, sadness and then of course much well-wishing by all on his new assignment. As in any human institution, there also began water-cooler speculation about who would take his place.
Speculation ended on February 13 when Archbishop Vigneron announced to the room, “I present the next rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Monsignor Todd John Lajiness.” And the room rose to its feet clapping and cheering. After expressing heartfelt appreciation for the service of Monsignor Monforton, the archbishop continued, “Monsignor Lajiness’s academic training, love for the seminary and his ‘priestliness’ make for a constellation of virtues the people of God have a right to expect in a rector.”
Father Lajiness (now “Monsignor” Lajiness) is a much respected figure at Sacred Heart as well. He has served as Dean of Studies since 2003, being responsible for the seminary’s academic programs and faculty development. He was college classmate of Monsignor Monforton, both men graduating from Sacred Heart with bachelor’s degrees in philosophy, and they are close friends. After being ordained to the priesthood in 1995, Monsignor Lajiness assisted former Detroit archbishop Cardinal Edmund Szoka in Rome for five years as his secretary.
“I think it is awesome!” expressed Kathy Luberski, financial aid counselor at Sacred Heart. “He is such a caring person. That is evident in the years we have come to know him,” says Luberski, pretty much summarizing the feelings of the entire community. “The seminarians I have talked to are just thrilled too.”
That includes second-year theology seminarian Ryan Adams. “For me, he has been a model of the priestly virtues we are taught in our formation program,” says Adams. “And he models the cardinal virtues, too: prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance.”
Fr. Richard Cassidy, professor of Scripture, cites the Latin phrase, Mens sana et in copore sano, when describing Monsignor Lajiness. “That means, ‘Sound in mind, sound in body,’ says Father Cassidy, referring to Monsignor’s participation in marathon running and triathlon competitions through the years.
Monsignor Lajiness cites the “exceptional leadership” and “unwavering commitment” of Monsignor Monforton’s as inspirations as he begins to prepare for his own tenure as rector. Monsignor is committed particularly to Sacred Heart’s continued development as the archdiocesan training center for future priests, deacons and lay ministers to become leaders of the “new evangelization” of the Church and the world called for by the Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.
Archbishop Vigneron will formally install Monsignor as Sacred Heart’s thirteenth rector at a Mass and ceremony after the new school year begins in September, at a date yet to be set.