Sunday, June 11, 2006

"A little planning and a lot of dumb luck will get you through"

Msgr. Richard McGuinness, is retiring on July 1. Today was his retirement Mass. The title of this post is one of his "Monsignorisms."

Now, I work for Monsignor, but I never knew just how much he did in his 55 year priestly career. Here's a taste: elementary and high school teacher, established the permanent diaconate training program for the Archdiocese of Newark, Rector of Mt. St. Mary Seminary, Emmittsburg, MD, when it was the nation's largest seminary, Director of the Archdiocese of Newark's Respect Life Office. He has a Master's and PhD in Theology and and advanced degree in Counseling. But above all, the man who calls himself simply "Fr. McGuinness" was a parish priest. And an excellent pastor. Our parish is running in the black. Our Parish school has the lowest tuition rate in the county, maybe even the Archdiocese, and it has grown while other schools have closed. If ever a parishioner was in trouble, Msgr. was there with food, a loan, a place to sleep, a referral to a treatment program, whatever.

His Mass today was concelebrated by 30 priests from 4 different dioceses and different religious orders. Recognize this guy?

He was there, concelebrating and looking pretty good, BTW. He was one of three CFRs there today, including Fr. Andrew Apostoli. You'd never know he was so close to "celebrities," he is such a humble guy. The chairman of our parish council got up and said some very lovely things about Monsignor. Everyone then stood and applauded him. When the applause died down and Msgr. got the chance to stand up, you know what he said? "Gosh, I wish I knew that guy!"

It feels a bit like I'm writing an obituary for him. Fact is that Monsignor hasn't been wel l for the last 9 months. He was away from our parish in hospitals and in the Caldwell Dominican infirmary for 4 months this fall and winter (The Dominican Sisters of Caldwell staff our school). He's seeming better, but he's 80 years old. He's earned his rest.

He asked those of us at Mass today to do a favor for him: to pray for vocations every day with our families. Will you do the same thing, as a favor to Monsignor? Ask the Lord to soften the hearts of those whom He calls, so that more workers can enter the fields. The harvest is great; the laborers are few.

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