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Legatus Magazine

Cover Story
Brian Fraga | author
Mar 01, 2020
Filed under Chaplains

He surfed his way to the seminary


Some people take a “gap year” between high school and college. Father Eric Cadin took a year off between college and seminary, living on a beach in Hawaii and surfing every day.

“Gap years are typically before college. After college, it’s just called being a bum,” Fr. Cadin, 39, said with a laugh during a recent interview with Legatus magazine.

Father Cadin, a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston who was ordained in 2012, is the chaplain of Legatus’ Boston Chapter, which chartered in December 2019. Fr. Cadin, a Harvard graduate who is also the vocations director for the archdiocese and director of university ministry, helped organize the new chapter.

You spent a year surfing in Hawaii?

After freshman year, a friend and I drove to San Diego and spent four months surfing every day. I was hooked. The next year, I flew to Los Angeles, where I taught surfing for the summer. The year after, I spent six months surfing in Australia and Indonesia. Then, when I graduated from college and before going to seminary, I went to Hawaii and surfed for a year. For six months, I lived in a tent on the beach.

How did you move toward the priesthood? 

When I was young, I remember thinking the priesthood was attractive, but I was very much concerned about working for worldly success. I would still go to Mass. My faith was not foremost in my mind, but it was always there.

It all culminated in a moment during my sophomore year of Harvard, where I had achieved great success academically, socially, and athletically. There was still an absence of peace, and of authentic happiness and joy. I had an inspiration that was the fruit of all the people who had prayed for me, especially my grandmothers and the Blessed Mother Mary.

What do you do as director of university ministry? 

I oversee the Catholic presence on the 72 colleges and universities in the archdiocese. We have an advisory group and a board, which includes many current Legatus members, to wrestle with this extraordinary opportunity to bring the Gospel to the 339,000 college students in the archdiocese.

Why did you start a Legatus chapter in Boston?

About a year and a half ago, I went to a one day event in Washington, D.C., on the sexual abuse crisis, and I heard scores of very faithful, extraordinary men and women, many of whom were Legates, who were angry and lamenting that they were never asked or empowered to offer genuine advice, counsel, and leadership to priests who often have no experience or training in this. Boston must have hundreds of very faithful Catholic men and women leaders who have never been brought together to leverage their faith and their influence and their skills to further the gospel. 

How long did it take to form the Boston Chapter?

Three months. We invited 26 couples to join. Before the chartering, we had monthly gatherings to meet each other, to build community, and to invite prospective members to come and see what Legatus is. Now that we’ve begun, we have a strong executive leadership team with a bold and comprehensive vision to build and challenge in faith, to foster genuine friendship, and ultimately to make saints among ourselves, in our workplaces, and in the city of Boston. 

Being in Massachusetts, do you get to surf at all?

 I do, in summer, when the water is a little warmer. I also enjoy skiing in the winter, and I spend a lot of time with my own family and with families I’ve gotten close with.


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