Whether he’s attending Temple football games, walking around campus or celebrating Mass, Father Shaun Mahoney is constantly involved in campus life.
“Being a priest requires me to be very much alive and relate to others to spread Christ’s identity,” said Mahoney, who is the director of the Newman Center on Main Campus. “Temple has such a wonderful strength, especially with its diversity, and the church helps to bridge us as a community.”
Mahoney was ordained a priest in 1991. After receiving a doctorate in dogmatic theology in Rome, he taught theology at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa.
Soon after, he was appointed to serve at the Newman Center, where he has resided for the past four years.
Ryan Schoening, a freshman criminal justice major, appreciates the tight-knit community at the Newman Center when he attends Sunday Mass because “the atmosphere feels so much more alive,” an element that Mahoney enjoys about serving college students.
The social stigma, however, portrays priests as unapproachable because they live in a counter-culture society where sinful actions are often ignored and social standards are no longer defined by religion. Consequently, wearing a white collar and dressing in all black attire may sometimes be a challenge to connect with students on a liberal college campus.
“Regardless of context,” Mahoney said, “immersing the students and faculty with some kind of faithbase teaching is the basis of my job.”
Although priests agree to vows that limit them from engaging in activities that are the social norm, they still have a defined masculine sexuality.
“It is something a lot deeper than people realize,” Mahoney said. “It is growing and understanding human emotions and feelings, and being able to relate to people with comfort to help them be aware with the knowledge that they are loved and respected. There’s masculinity at the core of any priest’s being.”
This masculinity allows him, even as a chaplain, to relate to students. In fact, he’s just like any other guy – he watches football, likes to eat and enjoys traveling.
A priest’s masculine sexuality allows him to reach out and connect with others, such as campus life, and numbers prove that Mahoney can. Approximately 160 to 200 students attend weekly Mass, not as an obligation, but because, “it’s a great way for self reflection, worship as a community and to end the weekend,” said Geoffrey Byrne, a freshman psychology major.
Freshman R.J. Magee only attended church prior to college because he was expected to.
“My family would make me,” the theater major said.
Although his previous attendance was fueled by parental influence, Magee now makes an effort to attend weekly mass by his own accord because he feels that Mahoney “gives empowering homilies.”
Magee also attends Mass because he says he can relate to Mahoney.
“You have to be a man to wear that white collar,” Magee said. “In that sense, I can definitely relate to him.”
Matthew Petrillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.