MSGR. JOHN F. SAMMON
MSGR. JOHN F. SAMMON
Over the years, Msgr. John F. Sammon has touched countless lives with his loving dedication to our Lord and His people, through selfless dedication to his ministry and Holy Catholic Church.
Msgr. Sammon is a native of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, born 10 Dec 1915. He is a proud graduate of Holy Cross College (1935-38), a Jesuit college in Worcester,MA, and a Seminarian of St. Mary’s Seminary (1938-42). He was ordained in 1942.
Msgr. Sammon’s first assignment in California was at Our Lady of Victory in Compton (1942-44), followed by service at St. Gregory Los Angeles (1944-54), St. Vibiana Cathedral Los Angeles (1954-55), St. Monica Santa Monica (1955-60). In the years before the establishment of the Diocese of Orange, he served as Chaplain to the Los Angeles Police and Fire Departments and held the same office for the City of Santa Monica’s Police and Fire Fighters.
He transferred in 1960 and served as pastor of St. Cecilia Parish in Tustin until 1976, at which time the new Diocese of Orange was established. Msgr. Sammon was appointed the first Vicar for the Pastoral and Community Affairs of the Orange Diocese, and he still serves in that capacity at the Diocesan Office in Marywood.
This dedicated Priest is known for his kindness and generous spirit that characterizes the work of this great man, by way of his support, commitment, and intense involvement with religious and civic organizations like First Friday Friars, the Serra Club, the Conference of Christians and Jews, the Orange County Police and Firefighters Association, and the Knights of Columbus.
Msgr. Sammon became a Knights of Columbus in May of 1943, and when the Orange County Chapter of the Knights of Columbus was formed in 1971, Msgr. Sammon was appointed as the Charter Chaplain of the Chapter, in which capacity he has served from 1971 to the present. Msgr. Sammon became a Fourth Degree Knight in July of 1985.
The Knights of Columbus in Orange County are what they are today because of the focus, perspective, guidance, and encouragement given them by this Blessed Priest during those times when the precepts of charity, unity, and fraternity were obscured by lesser ideals and distractions. Monsignor Sammon, as Chaplain, has been the pillar in our Chapter promoting "Unity" for all the Councils in Orange County. In his own words: "...We must realize the necessity of always working together in strong unity. Hopefully, all Councils will consider an active partnership in making our Chapter a strong, active, fraternal 'United' K of C family, publicly expressing unity through meetings with all Councils participating and planning important K of C activities. We can be proud of our history in the Diocese, but much remains to be accomplished. Let's not just talk fraternity, unity and charity, but let's really live it! ...."
In the words of Bishop Brown “We are truly blessed to have a priest of such depth, skills, and conviction as Msgr. Sammon. His relationship with his parishioners and the special communities he has ministered to throughout his career, make him unique and appreciated by many.”
Obituary for CSFA Chaplain Monsignor John Sammon 11/29/2006
John Sammon, CSFA Chaplain since 1946, died Friday, November 24. He was
90 years old.
Following his assignment in Compton, Sammon served at St. Gregory's in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Fire Department's Station 45 was at the end of the block, and Sammon soon found himself the chaplain for the city fire department. Los Angeles firefighters urged him to become involved with CSFA, and at the age of 30 he became the Association's official chaplain.
Over the years Sammon was also chaplain for the Los Angeles and Santa Monica police departments and the Santa Monica Fire Department. He was also involved as a chaplain for law enforcement and fire agencies in Orange County; the California Fire Chiefs Association and the former Los Angeles Rams. As for the Rams, Sammon recalled once, "I kept telling them, 'If I pray and you play, we'll win,'" he said. "Well, I did my part."
When the Diocese of Orange was established in 1976, Sammon was appointed the first vicar for pastoral and community affairs, which included serving as chaplain to local fire and police departments.
He'd always had a special spot in his heart for fire and law enforcement personnel. "They are always there to support others," he said once, "but no one is there to support them." Sammon was.
He kept a police and fire scanner in his car and would show up at a 2 a.m. fire, without even having been asked.
Once Sammon saw a woman at the Santa Ana Civic Center showing her grandson a memorial statue for police officers. When the boy asked about one for firefighters, she said there wasn't one.
Thirteen years later, largely through Sammon's efforts, a monument for firefighters was erected at the Civic Center.
Sammon worked from a diocese office in Orange filled with books and various plaques and tributes awarded from the numerous groups he served. The office was also adorned with hundreds of stuffed animals â�" including many of Snoopy. Sammon was a huge fan of the "Peanuts" comic strip. He was a lover of ice cream, and the fire service tradition of eating it to celebrate awards or a firefighter getting their picture in the newspaper. He is also credited with coining "The Fire Family", a term he used often in speeches, sermons, and regular essays in fire service publications.
He summed up his approach to ministering to the fire service in this way in a 1993 interview:
"My point was always to be around to help the guys, rather than to be around to save them. I was told when I first came in, by an old battalion chief up in LA, that the only way the (chaplain) program was going to work was if the guys didn't feel they had to run away if they saw me coming."
His low-key ministering reached thousands in the fire service over the years. His observation was that firefighters look upon religion as something very personal and extremely sensitive.
"I'm not saying that firefighters are not religious, but over the years I have found that their relationship (with God) is more personal and private. Quite a few do attend church, but religion is something that is not common station talk. They don't wear it on their sleeve, but they are very careful, and I think very attentive to the spiritual values as well as a lot of moral values and civic values."
Given his wit, humor and low-key approach, Sammon was loved and known by the fire service throughout California.
"I have had the privilege and honor or knowing and working with Monsignor Sammon for the past 15 years. He will always be remembered as a caring individual who was highly committed to supporting our fire service family. Even though he has left this earth, his legacy and the results of his service and accomplishments will remain with us forever," said Kevin Nida President of CSFA.
He is survived by many nieces and nephews.
Thursday, November 30, 2006 at 11:00 a.m.
The CSFA Steamer & Steamer Team will be attending this service.
Go to: http://www.crystalcathedral.org/visitors/driving.html for location and driving directions. An Ice Cream Social Reception Immediately Following.
Monsignor Sammon will be escorted from the mortuary to the Crystal Cathedral by fire engines and the family. Units participating in the escort have been specifically identified and details provided to the respective agencies.
There will be a static display of fire apparatus in the Crystal Cathedral parking lot. Other fire departments are welcome to send fire apparatus, or have personnel attend. All apparatus and personnel should arrive at the Crystal Cathedral by 10:30 a.m. sharp. The family has requested that fire service members attend in uniform.
For additional information or questions about the service, contact: OCFA Division Chief Dan Drake @ (714) 573-6041, Captain Kirk Wells @ (714) 573-6027, or Executive Assistant Olivia Moeller @ (714) 573-6023
Thursday, November 30, 2006 at 7:00 p.m.
Holy Family Cathedral
Friday, December 1, 2006 at 10:00 a.m.
Holy Family Cathedral
Flowers/Donations: Flower arrangements for the memorial service should be sent to the Crystal Cathedral, where OCFA personnel will be standing by beginning at 10:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers it is requested that donations may be made to the following:
Society for the Propagation of the Faith
County Fire Services Memorial