Rev. Walsh celebrates 25 years in the priesthood

Kailey Love | Photo Editor Rev. Daniel Walsh celebrated 25 years as an ordained priest with a special mass and reception on August 14.
Kailey Love | Photo Editor Rev. Daniel Walsh celebrated 25 years as an ordained priest with a special mass and reception on August 14.
Kailey Love | Photo Editor Rev. Daniel Walsh celebrated 25 years as an ordained priest with a special mass and reception on August 14.

Brandon Addeo | News Editor 

Spiritan Campus Ministry Director Rev. Daniel Walsh celebrated his 25-year anniversary of ordainment to the priesthood with a special mass and reception August 14.

It was a bit more high profile than he would have liked, though.

“I wanted [the anniversary] to go quietly, but I’ve got a sister who wanted to have a celebration,” Walsh said with a smile.

He said it was a small gathering of family and “buddies” from high school and college, some of whom had not seen each other for several decades.

Matthew Broeren, a Spiritan seminarian who works under Walsh, praised his humility in his line of work.

“He’s the most humble person I know,” Broeren said. “With how humble he is, having a conversation with Fr. Dan is an experience of humility itself.”

While the celebration might have been a simple affair, Walsh’s life has been anything but simple.

He was born in Jacksonville, NC, where his father, a marine, was stationed at Camp Lejeune. After Walsh was born, his father left the Marines for a new job in Pittsburgh, and his family moved there.

That job saw Walsh and his family move around the country, from Crafton, PA, to Syracuse, to San Jose and then to Philadelphia. Moving around during his childhood wasn’t easy for Walsh.

“We were always the ‘new person,’” he said. “When we moved to California, kids thought we talked funny.”

In one instance, a woman in California mistook his mother for a foreigner when she heard her accent, Walsh recounted with a laugh.

Family was important to Walsh in his childhood years, and he had to defend his siblings during school.

“As a little boy, I got into a lot of fights,” he said. “[There were] kids picking on [me], picking on my brother and sister, so I was kind of starting the fights.”

Walsh first became interested in joining the priesthood when he went to a Philadelphia high school run by the Christian Brothers, a religious organization, though he decided then it wasn’t for him.

“I gave thought to becoming a Christian Brother, but I always had a hundred friends and a thousand things to do and the thought would pass,” Walsh said.

After graduating high school, he came to Duquesne, where his father and grandfather were both alumni. Again, the thought of joining the priesthood crossed Walsh’s mind, but he decided against it.

He took a job at a Mesa, A.Z., bank when he graduated from Duquesne. It was here, when he didn’t have his “buddies to loaf around with,” when Walsh felt more drawn to becoming a priest.

“I found myself going to mass every day,” he said.

He still had his doubts about the priesthood, though.

“I was thinking, I liked to play sports and, you know, I probably didn’t have what it takes to be a priest,” Walsh said.

After consulting with a priest close to his family, Walsh decided to join the Christian Brothers seminary in Houston. His first assignment was a mission to serve a small village in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest called Tefe.

In 1984, Walsh decided to return to Duquesne to join the Spiritan order of priests. He said the Spiritans had left an impression on him during his undergraduate years.

“There was just a humanity about the Spiritans,” Walsh said. “They were good [role] models but they could also be your friend.”

Spiritan Campus Ministry Assistant Director Fr. Bill Christy said one of Walsh’s best qualities is his flexibility as a minister.

“I think what comes to mind is his adaptability and his willingness to receive the call from the Spiritan ministry of whatever they need him to do,” Christy said.

Walsh’s career in the priesthood has also seen him work in a Portuguese parish, at campus ministries in Texas and as a chaplain for the poor in San Diego.