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Alvernia University recognizes area clergy as part of its “Year for Priests” commemoration

Date: 12/9/2009

Rev. George A. Aschenbrenner and Rev. Monsignor James A. Treston to be honored for their commitment to the community and religious life.

Alvernia University is honoring two priests for their service in the Berks County community as part of its year-long celebration of the “Year for Priests,” which Pope Benedict XVI promulgated for 2009-2010.
The Reverend George A. Aschenbrenner, S.J., former director of the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth in Wernersville, Pa., and The Reverend Monsignor James A. Treston, pastor of St. Ignatius Loyola Church, Sinking Spring, Pa., were formally recognized by Alvernia’s President Thomas F. Flynn during a dinner attended by the Most Rev. John O. Barres, D.D. S.T.D., J.C.L., Bishop of Allentown, on Dec. 7 at the Bernadine Franciscan Conference Center. The dinner coincided with the Bishop’s visit to Alvernia to tour campus and meet with members of the campus community.  
Both priests will receive honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Alvernia. Treston will receive his honorary degree at the university’s December commencement and Aschenbrenner will be awarded an honorary degree at Alvernia’s spring 2010 graduation ceremony. The university also plans other activities to honor area priests during the remainder of the “Year for Priests.”
The Holy Father declared last summer that the church should observe a “Year for Priests” from June 2009 - June 2010. The year began June 19, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, a day devoted to prayer for the sanctification of the clergy. The year also marks the 150th year of the death of John Mary Vianney, the patron saint of all priests.
“The Pope has asked us to recognize ‘with heartfelt gratitude, the immense gift which priests represent, not only for the Church, but also for humanity itself, and we see this as a the exact right time to honor these men for their great work in Berks County as well as in other communities in Pennsylvania and across the nation,” said Flynn.
Aschenbrenner, who currently resides at the Jesuit community at the Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C., is a nationally recognized author and speaker on topics related to spirituality and religious life. His popular books include the 2002 “Quickening the Fire in our Midst – The Challenge of Diocesan Priestly Spirituality” on the challenges within the American priesthood and “The Jesuit University Today: An Introduction to the Ignatian Vision in Higher Education.” Aschenbrenner is co-founder of the Institute for Priestly Formation at Creighton University in Omaha and teaches a two-week course on the spirituality of the diocesan priesthood for seminarians and seminary spiritual directors. He continues to conduct retreats around the country.
Until recently, Aschenbrenner served as the rector of the Jesuit Community at The University of Scranton, a role he held since 2003 and prior to that, he served as director of the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth in Wernersville. Earlier in his career, Aschenbrenner taught at Scranton Preparatory School and was spiritual director for lay faculty and facilitator of reflection on Ignatian charism at The University of Scranton. He has also served as assistant to the academic vice president at St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia, and director of the Whole Spiritual Formation Program at the North American College in Rome.
Treston has served as pastor of St. Ignatius since 1983. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1960 and in April 2010, he will celebrate his Golden Jubilee of 50 years of service as a priest.
Born and raised in West Chester, Pa., where he attended Catholic elementary and secondary schools, Treston later studied for the priesthood at St. Charles Borromeao Seminary.
Following his ordination, he began his service in the Diocese of Allentown as associate pastor at St. Peter’s Church in Reading. Other early assignments within the Diocese include associate pastor at St Patrick’s in Pottsville and Allentown’s Our Lady Help of Christians and Cathedral of St. Catherine as well as associate professor at Central Catholic High School. He was named pastor of St. Canicus Church in Mahanoy City, Pa., in 1975 and in 1981 he was named an Honorary Prelate of His Holiness and given the title of Monsignor.
During his 26-years of service at St. Ignatius, the parish has grown to 3,100 families. Treston's leadership helped shape the Parish Education Center where 400 students are enrolled in the school and another 800 attend CCD classes. He has also successfully overseen multiple renovations to the Church, Convent and Rectory.

About Alvernia University

Alvernia is a selective, private university that combines the academic rigor of a comprehensive university with the personal attention of a small liberal arts college. Located in historic Berks County, Pa., the institution offers more than 600 courses with 50 majors and minors. Guided by Catholic Franciscan values and the ideal of “knowledge joined with love,” Alvernia offers a rigorous, caring, and inclusive learning community committed to academic excellence. Its nearly 3,000 students benefit from small class sizes, and faculty who are outstanding teachers and helpful mentors. An Alvernia education fosters intellectual and spiritual development to produce ethical professionals with moral courage, and successful leaders who are engaged community members.

  • History: Established as a private four-year liberal arts college in 1958, Alvernia celebrated its 50th year by being awarded university status in 2008.
  • Heritage: Founded by the Bernardine Sisters, a Catholic religious order, the university embraces the Franciscan core values of service, humility, collegiality, contemplation and peacemaking.
  • Motto: “To Learn, To Love, To Serve”
  • Campus: The main campus in Reading is 121 acres, with two satellite campuses in Philadelphia and Pottsville (Schuylkill County).
  • Location: Our residential campus is situated three miles from center-city Reading, in the scenic Blue Mountain area of Eastern Pennsylvania.
  • Enrollment: 3,000 students attend Alvernia including 1,500 traditional undergraduates, 600 continuing education students, and 780 graduate students. Over 77% of first-year students live on campus.
  • Faculty: Our professors are accomplished scholars, experts in their fields, and supportive mentors. The student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1. Most classes are 20 students or fewer.
  • Athletics: NCAA Division III, member of the Commonwealth Conference of the Middle Atlantic States Athletic Corporation and member of Eastern College Athletic Conference, 8 men’s and 10 women’s intercollegiate sports.