A sergeant’s pathto the priesthood
February 16th by admin
By Harry Keaney
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An Irish American cop was collared in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York before Christmas.
On Dec. 19, Cardinal John O’Connor ordained James Huvane, a 36-year NYPD veteran, who swapped the blue of New York’s finest for the black of the Catholic priesthood.
At Huvane’s age, most people would be thinking about retirement. Instead, the 64-year-old former sergeant is about to embark on a new career, armed no longer with his shield and standard police-issue firearm but with a maturity, a humility and a faith honed by a lifetime of trials and tribulations.
In his clerical garb, a Celtic Cross adorning the left lapel of his jacket, it is difficult to imagine the soft-spoken Fr. Huvane as a hard-charging cop in the rough and tumble of the world’s largest police department. But, according to friends and acquaintances, it was Sgt. Huvane’s gentle side that set him apart amid the harshness of the circumstances he often encountered as a police officer.
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Last week at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, where he completed his studies for the priesthood, Fr. Huvane exuded peace and contentment with his decision to become a priest. But he admitted there were times, at the beginning, when he was ambivalent.
“I loved being a cop, I loved the job, I didn’t want to leave,” he said.
So he turned to prayer.
While in Mexico in July 1992, Huvane visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadeloupe. “I asked the Blessed Mother for a sign to help me resolve my difficulties,” he said.
In early August 1992, he applied for retirement from the police department with the intention of beginning his priestly studies at the St. John Neumann Residence in Riverdale.
“After I applied to St. John Neumann, I went through a year when I lost a lot of sleep,” he said. “I used to wake up in the middle of the night asking myself, ‘What am I doing?’ “
However, the veteran police officer had a small escape gap.
During his lengthy career, he had accumulated about four months of accrued leave that he could use to begin studies and, perhaps, return to the force if things didn’t work out. Then he received notice from the police benefits office that the cutoff date for his return was Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
“That was my sign, and that sign has sustained me all through the process,” he said. “I got a great sense of peace and happiness, which has stayed with me.”
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Huvane, James [MC1956]
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