Augustinian Anniversary: Father Ray Marks 40th Year
Merrimack College honored Rev. Raymond Dlugos, O.S.A., vice president of mission and ministry, this week for reaching 40 years as an Augustinian Friar and 35 years as a priest, including a decade serving the college and the wider community.
The celebration for Father Ray, as he’s known, began with Mass at the Collegiate Church of Christ the Teacher followed by a lunch attended by more than 300 faculty, students, trustees, administrators and friends. Speaker after speaker described Father Ray as someone they could turn to in good times and bad.
“There is not a better human being in the world when things are tough than Father Ray,” said President Christopher Hopey. All he has to say is “Ray, I need you” and the friar is at his side, the president said. “You have spent 40 years as an Augustinian, 35 years as a priest and 10 years as my friend.”
As vice president and prior of St. Ambrose Friary at Merrimack, Father Ray is involved with many students. Harrison McClellan, a sophomore in the college’s Austin Scholars living-learning community, recalled receiving guidance from Father Ray during “a pretty rough patch.”
“When many people had lost faith in me and I had lost faith in myself, Father Ray was there and willing to talk to me — but he did not pull any punches when he disagreed with something I was doing,” McClellan recounted. “He is a very kind and generous human being.”
In a lighter moment, women’s field hockey captain and All-American Mary McNeil and her teammates presented the honored guest with the NCAA field hockey rulebook. As team chaplain, Father Ray says he plans to cheer loud enough to be ejected from a game and wants to know exactly how, she explained. The audience at the Sak erupted in laughter.
“He is at our games rain or shine,” said McNeil.
Father Ray also spoke, telling students they are valued. “See if you can believe. Believe in yourself and believe in each other.”
Honored as well for his work creating Hands to Help, a Lawrence community service program at St. Mary of the Assumption Church, Father Ray also assists with weekend Masses at St. Michael Church in North Andover and St. Augustine Church in Andover.