Fr. Hagan O.S.A. joins Board of Trustees


Steve O'Meara

Father and Board of Trustees Member Robert Hagan wears many hats: from being the Villanova team chaplain and Associate Athletics Director, to becoming a member of the Board of Trustees at Malvern.

Hagan’s story is different from most, starting as a lawyer, he eventually changed his life vocation to become a significant religious leader on the campus of Villanova University.

Born in Drexel Hill, Hagan attended O’Hara and Villanova, then going Widener Law School to become a lawyer. Later on, he had an understanding that changed his life.

“I used to think that a calling was something real radical, like Saint Paul was knocked off his horse. The call is more subtle, it could be more like a whisper, or a recurring thought in your heart,” he said. “I kind of came to realize that maybe God wasn’t knocking me off my horse, and was just tapping me on the shoulder.”

Hagan did not realize what God had intended for him until after practicing law.

“I love the law, [but] I don’t think I wanted to leave the law as much as I wanted to make sure I was following God’s plan for me,” he said. “My father passed away my senior year of high school. He had a brain aneurysm, went to bed one night and never woke up. That was a very painful and difficult experience but to be honest, in a way it was one of the great gifts my dad had ever gave me. It really showed me early on in life how short life is.”

Other priests he knew also showed Hagan a glimpse into the life of a priest.

“I met some Augustinians here, like Father Peter and Father Maguire, and I used to think that priesthood would be sitting in church with your hands folded all the time, saying all your prayers,” Hagan said. “Then I was meeting these guys like Father Reilly who are running schools and being chaplains and involved in people’s lives, I kind of started to see priesthood as more of a broadway of life to really help people.”

Hagan is the team chaplain for Villanova’s basketball program and has been for 14 years. He is also currently the associate athletics director and helps oversee the sports medicine, but his job is deeper than just the title.

“My role in a lot of ways, is to be a listener,” he said. “You’d be amazed if you just be quiet and build a relationship of trust, how you can discover what’s going on in a student-athlete’s life.”

Hagan has one memory that will stay with him forever.

“We played a game in the NCAA tournament in 2016 on Holy Thursday… I said ‘guys, this is Holy Thursday. Jesus taught us that life isn’t about being served it’s about service, and he washed the feet of his disciples, and we can do that,’” Hagan said.

“Next thing you know, Coach Wright takes off his sock and shoe and I washed his feet and then Coach Wright washed Archie’s feet, and Arch washed Josh Hart’s feet, and Josh washed Kris Jenkins’ feet, and Kris washed Daniel Ochefu’s feet, then they washed the managers’ feet, then the walk-ons’ feet, and they washed the assistant coaches’ and their wives’ feet. Everyone got their feet washed because we say within our team that our roles are different, but our status is the same,” he said.

He believes that one main characteristic has led the Villanova basketball team to have so much success.

“I really believe, and we have said it often internally as a team, that our humility is our strength. Humility isn’t something that you see on the front page of the New York Times or on Sports Illustrated, but you have a lot of people who have not sat on the bench since third grade. Everyone wants to start, everyone wants the points, everyone wants the dunk on Sportscenter, everyone wants to be a ‘star’. But if you have a bunch of individual stars, you don’t have a team,” Hagan said.

For Hagan, being team chaplain is a very important role in both his life and the life of student-athletes. He does not take this position lightly.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“My role in a lot of ways, is to be a listener. You’d be amazed if you just be quiet and build a relationship of trust, how you can discover what’s going on in a student-athlete’s life.”

-Fr. Hagan, O.S.A.[/perfectpullquote]

“It is a very privileged position to accompany these young men and to see up close how hard they work and to see how much they juggle and multitask,” he said. “They have to get all their academics taken care of. The travel, the film, the study, the bus rides, the late hours, and to see the way they represent us on this world stage, and a coach who is really concerned about them as men, not just as players.”

Hagan joining the Board of Trustees is due to Prior Provincial Michael Di Gregorio’s, O.S.A., impossible situation of being at all the different Augustinian schools at once.

“I serve on the Council of Augustinians. That’s a leadership group that helps administration for our order. Our Provincial is the overseer of all that, Fr. Michael Di Gregorio. As a result of his position, he is a defacto member of all of the boards of all the institutions that we have,” he said.

He is very familiar with the Malvern Prep community, as he was at the 2018 graduation and has many friends from Malvern.

“I have friends of mine, peers who went to Malvern, and I also have friends whose sons went to Malvern. And of course the kids we get here at Villanova from Malvern are just a wonderful representation of what’s going on in that school. There’s a spirit, there’s a brotherhood, there is strong academics, there is community, there are Augustinian values,” Hagan said.

Throughout Hagan’s many career paths he has been able to offer advice on how people should look towards the future.

“Life isn’t a dress rehearsal, make it count. Do not to be afraid of our time ending on this earth, but for the days we have on this earth, are we really doing what our passion is, where our heart is,” Hagan said.