Many students knew Father William Guerin, OSFS, as Father G, Big G, or The Shadow. Many more knew him as their mentor. The former treasurer of Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales passed away earlier this year, but his legacy will live on for generations to come at DeSales University.
The University is naming its newest residence hall the Father William Guerin, OSFS, House. The building – the third in a series of eight planned residence halls – is currently being built in The Villages near the Father James Finnegan OSFS House and the Father John Harvey OSFS House.
“He was an absolutely remarkable man and had a profound influence on a large number of students,” says John Weiland ’77, vice chairman, president, and chief operating officer of C.R. Bard, Inc.
Weiland fondly remembers registering for classes as a freshman at Allentown College in 1973. He was one thousand dollars short for tuition and his fate was in Fr. Guerin’s hands. “We set up a meeting and he said, ‘you’re worth taking a chance on,’” Weiland recalls. “From that day on, he became a great mentor to me, as he was to many, many other people at the college. He was without a doubt one of the most important influences in my life for the last 44 years.”
Greg Springer ’98, founder and managing director of Conscendo Consulting, met Fr. Guerin during an Oblate golf outing. A few days later, Fr. Guerin wrote him a card of encouragement and sent it along with a few business articles. He became Springer’s spiritual director and mentor, as well as his dear friend. “Fr. Guerin was the most humble and selfless person I ever met,” says Springer. “He helped strengthen my Catholic faith considerably, was responsible for marrying my wife, Jennifer, and I, and baptized both of my kids. He was family.”
Father Guerin served as treasurer of Allentown College from 1974 to 1981 and was also on the Board of Trustees. He mentored hundreds of people throughout his lifetime, giving them not only advice but also confidence in the decisions they were making. “He was an expert in helping people set goals in every aspect of their lives and then consistently monitoring those goals and what type of progress you were making towards them,” says Weiland, whose youngest child, Christopher Guerin Weiland, is named after the longtime mentor.
The new hall will house 70 students, which is more than the previous two at The Villages, in suites with two single and two double rooms, full kitchens, and laundry facilities. The building will also include study rooms on the second and third floors. “We're looking to be completed August 10,” says Marc Albanese, associate vice president of campus environment.
Guerin House isn’t the only new addition coming to campus. Crews are adding a third parking lot to the Gambet Center, repaving the Trexler Library parking lot, and renovating the Dooling Hall auditorium and the admissions suite. “There will definitely be noticeable changes around campus when students return,” Albanese says.
For Springer, Guerin House is a testament to the countless people Fr. Guerin impacted, both inside and outside the DeSales community. “He was a living Saint whose memory will live on for generations to come--especially by the actions of all those he touched.”
DeSales announced plans to name the new residence hall before Fr. Guerin passed away on March 3, 2017, at the age of 87. “It was nice that he knew this was going to happen,” says Weiland. “He said it was the greatest recognition a man could have who has dedicated his life to priestly duties.”
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