Mother During My College and Seminary Years

Gramp King was still living with us when I graduated from St. Michael's High School in 1949 and would stay with us until his death on Christmas Day 1958. Even though I had to give up my bedroom upstairs so Gramp could have a room of his own, and share the larger bedroom with my brother Frank, I never regretted doing so. Gramp was the kindest man who cared deeply for all of us. Although he was a Methodist, he helped his grandchildren learn their Catholic Catechism. He treated my mother as his little girl every day and couldn't do enough for her, and my dad and he became best friends!

Ma had plenty of love for all her family and was a great friend to many people. She baked for them, helped clean their houses (those who were elderly) and finally developed a small business selling her baked goods and eggs and doing housecleaning for pay.

I had thought about becoming a priest since the age of ten so during my senior year of High School with my pastor's approval, I applied for admission to St Charles' College in Catonsville, Maryland. I was accepted and began the two-year program leading to an Associate Degree in Classical Languages in 1949.

I was very homesick the first ten months there - five-hundred-miles from home and able to go home at Christmas and then not until June for the summer. Because I couldn't stand to wear starch stiff shirts, my mom bought two aluminum laundry cases. One was always in the mail with my week's laundry in it. Back it would come with the laundry, newspaper clippings and some goodies!

After I graduated from St. Charles I wanted to return to St. Mary's on Paca Street, Baltimore, Maryland to earn my Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy. But my Bishop wanted to send me to Montreal, Canada to the Grand Seminary where I'd have to study Algebra, chemistry, and all my other subjects in French. Though I had taken French courses in high school and college I was not fluent enough in speech or reading to do Academic work other than French, in French.

I vacillated all summer of 1951 and on the day before I was to leave for Montreal I decided I had to finish my Bachelor's degree at our University near my home where I could study in English. Through a friendship with our State Representative, my dad got me accepted and registered in two days and I began my studies as a History Major also seeking teacher certification.

I started dating, continued in the Grange serving as Master, and with my Gramp's help and the last of my savings I bought a horse so I could ride with my buddy, Dave. My first girlfriend's parents who lived next to us let me use their barn and pasture for free and I worked part-time to support my horse and for spending money. My dad loved to ride and after getting over the fact that I had emptied my account to buy her, rode the horse as much as I did! I had an earned scholarship, lived at home, and had no car of my own, so my college expenses were not great.

But I could not settle down. I wanted to be a teaching priest. I had dated several girls but I felt that I was deserting God by not going on in Seminary. So, in the fall of 1953, after graduating from the University I entered the postulancy of the Holy Cross Fathers at Stonehill College while taking all the philosophy courses required in a single year instead of two because I already had my Bachelor's Degree.

My sister Dolores was now in Nursing School, Frank was in High School and Celeste in Elementary.

I studied hard and earned all A's and a couple of B's at Stonehill but I was not happy. I missed my social life and my girlfriends. But I had determined to stay until my confessor told me to leave. In March of 1954 we had a long conference. The bottom line was that he told me to go home and get married!

I was an emotional wreck. The very trying time of discernment had taken its toll - at five foot nine inches tall I weighed about one hundred twenty five pounds.

At twenty-one years old when I came out, my mother was there to support me. I was so broken that I remember sitting on her lap, hugging her, and crying uncontrollably. She just rocked me as she had when I was a small child. She never gave up on me.

Bernard J. Fleury, B.A. History and Classical Languages, Ed.D. Philosophy, Government, and Administration, is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Educational Administration. His administrativeteaching career spans more than five decades and three United States and Caribbean Colleges. Dr. Fleury's lifelong interest in history from the perspective of the people who lived it, is evident in Chaps. VIII & IX of A Bee in His Bonnet (website that is his grandfather Frank King's Great Generation story as he recorded it, and told it to his daughter and grandchildren.