Crowley, Father Cale John, P.S.S.
2018, October 7
Date of Birth: 1943, June 10
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is when brothers live in harmony! It is like fine oil on the head, running down on the beard, running down Aaron’s beard over the collar of his robes.” (Ps. 133: 1-2) This prayer of the psalmist captures well the community commitment and spirit that Fr. Cale Crowley brought to his Sulpician ministry. With a warm heart and sensitive spirit, he was a catalyst for bringing the community together.
Cale John Crowley was born in Billings, MT on June 10, 1943 to Cale and Catherine (nee Allard) Crowley. He is from a family of six children. He is survived by two brothers, William and Daniel, and one sister, Mary.
Fr. Crowley earned his bachelor’s degree at St. Thomas Seminary, Kenmore, WA (1965) and the M.Div. degree in the theology division of that same seminary (1969). As a Sulpician candidate he later earned the M.A. degree in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN (1972) followed there by the Ph.D. in philosophy in 1976.
After ordination to the priesthood for the Diocese of Great Falls, MT on April 19, 1969, Fr. Crowley was assigned as a Sulpician candidate to St. Patrick’s College, Mountain View, CA (1972-1975; 1976-1981). He stayed on there after its name changed to St. Joseph’s College to teach for three more years (1981-1984). He then moved back east to Theological College (1984-1988) where he directed the Basselin scholarship program for studies in philosophy at the Catholic University of America. Fr. Crowley returned to St. Joseph’s College again to be its Rector from 1988-1991. The college relocated to St. Patrick’s Seminary, Menlo Park, CA after its devastation by the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, and then closed in 1991. After teaching for nearly twenty years in the U.S., Fr. Crowley took a sabbatical year (1991-1992) before joining those early Sulpician pioneer missionaries who first arrived in Zambia in 1989.
In Zambia, Fr. Crowley served in various capacities. He began his service at St. Augustine’s Seminary (1992-1996), the philosophy division of the Zambian national seminary system. He then became Rector of the Emmaus Spirituality Centre (1996-1999), the propaedeutic program under the auspices of the Sulpicians. He returned to St. Augustine’s in 1999 and became Rector there from 2002-2010. Fr. Crowley served as the Regional Superior for all the Sulpicians in Zambia from 2003-2010 and finished his last year in Zambia back at Emmaus Spirituality Centre (2011). For medical reasons, Fr. Crowley returned to the states in July, 2011.
Fr. Crowley loved Zambia and made it his home, as manifest in his wearing the colorful clothes of the country and in the rhythm of his simple dance. While his return to the states concluded his teaching commitment to the African mission, he remained intensely interested in the developments of that mission and the Sulpicians serving there, especially the native Zambians who were his former students that later became Sulpicians. Fr. Crowley was a grandfather figure to them. As the Zambians would explain it, they saw him as having more kindness and sensitivity than their own parents. He was one to whom students would go for consolation, protection, and understanding. His students there admired how conscientious he was about learning a new culture and living in its style. The letter of condolence from the Zambian Conference of Catholic Bishops acknowledged their indebtedness to Fr. Crowley’s charism of formation and expressed that the common sentiment of the priests is that Fr. Crowley was one of their best seminary formators.
His service in the seminary will have a lasting impact not only on the priests who were under his care but also on life in the local church for years to come.
During his medical leave in the states, Fr. Crowley resided with the retirement community in what was then St. Charles Villa, but has since been renamed as Villa Olier. In 2012, Fr Crowley was assigned as the Director of the Villa. He held this position until his own retirement in 2016, when he stepped down as Director and joined his retired confreres as a resident to live out the rest of his life in the community which he helped to shape. During his last years, he cultivated a new hobby of tending the roses in the newly planted landscaping around the Villa.
A community man through and through, he loved to be among his confreres and to be part of the larger seminary community of students. In community life, Fr. Crowley was widely recognized as being a sensitive man who was generous with his time. He took a personal interest in those with whom he lived. One of his distinguishing characteristics was how he displayed a special sensitivity to the marginalized, the underdog, and anyone who was especially vulnerable in any way, even if such a defense brought him into conflict with authorities.
That he was asked to give so many years to administration is incongruous with his personality. Fr. Crowley was our legendary “absent-minded professor.” Anyone who entered his room, or office, would quickly recognize that organization was not his strength. One colleague recalled that Fr. Crowley once lost a spare tire in his bedroom! With the organizational and social demands of administration being very taxing for him, he carried out his administrative duties at great cost to himself. His strengths were in teaching and the one-to-one ministry of advising and directing. With these skills he touched the lives of two generations of students.
Fr. Crowley was admitted to home hospice at the Villa on September 22, 2018 and died soon after on October 7, 2018 from metastatic lung cancer. On October 12, 2018 Fr. Crowley was buried in the Sulpician cemetery in Catonsville, MD following the funeral liturgy at the Chapel of Villa Olier. At his Mass of the Resurrection, the Provincial, Very Rev. John C. Kemper, P.S.S., presided; Fr. Cornelius Hankomoone, P.S.S., a former student of Fr. Crowley’s from Zambia was the homilist; and the Director of the Villa, Fr. Dan Doherty, P.S.S., led the committal service at the graveside.
Fr. Crowley modeled the apostolic spirit of the Sulpician tradition in the dedicated way that he gave nineteen years of his priestly ministry to getting the Sulpicians rooted in their African mission. Fr. Crowley brought his love of the priesthood, enthusiasm for teaching, sensitivity to those who needed special consideration, and his generous community spirit to this new adventure. Whether in Mountain View, CA, Theological College in Washington, D.C., Zambia, or the Villa, he left his mark as a “community man.” We give thanks for his life that touched the lives of so many with the inclusive love of the God Fr. Crowley knew as loving without measure.
Richard M. Gula, P.S.S.
Director of Personnel