All through life I have sought adventure – to find exhilarating things to do! I didn’t want life to be a boring, dragged out series of days. In the Seminary, my plans revolved around the goal of joining the Maryknoll Missionaries after Ordination and volunteering for work in China. In the 1940’s, China still had an open door policy to the world. Unforeseen home obligations prevented me from doing this, much to my disappointment. However, all that planning about China filled my days in the Seminary with excitement and motivation to prepare myself as well as possible for the missions.
At the age of 57, some forty years ago, I resigned as Pastor from St. Barnabas Parish in Chicago, and volunteered to serve the Eskimo missions in the Fairbanks Diocese of Northern Alaska. This, I knew, would be my last chance to be a missionary. I dreamed of offering Mass in isolated Eskimo villages along the wild Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers in far Western Alaska. Because of a shortage of priests, these Eskimos (with definite Chinese features) heard Mass only once a month. All these dreams came true! No running water or indoor plumbing!
In my time there, I delighted in living with the Eskimos, a kind, gentle people, in a different culture, far away from home. In the wild beauty of Alaska, my cup of adventure overflowed with exhilaration. At the present time, I still think of Alaska, “The Last Frontier”.
We can all seek adventure in life, right here in our home grounds. Without adventure, our lives can become days of quiet desperation. I have discovered that the greatest of all adventures is to search for God, The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit. The dictionary defines the word “adventure” as an exciting experience or undertaking. The search for the Great God involves serving This Holy One with love and offering due praise and worship.
If we dream of God, no day will drag out in grinding despair. Despite trials, sufferings of all kinds, a joyous spirit within us will lift up our lives in an exciting way. As my days come to an end, in my efforts to pursue this adventure of God, I cry out every day, “O God, I want to know You better, love You more dearly and walk more closely in Your footsteps.”
Our striving to discover God brings excitement and joy into our days! After preaching thousands of homilies about God, I feel I have only scraped the surface of knowledge of this Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As we treasure God in friendship, we work to make our lives more pleasing to the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier, not out of fear of hell, but out of Love!
Fr. George Mc Kenna
In January, 1990, I met an interesting man in the Old City of Jerusalem. We will call him Santo, about 37 years old, a native of Naples, Italy. Being a worker in the US Navy shipyards, Santo spoke excellent English. At breakfast one morning, in the Franciscan Hospice where we stayed, Santo shared with our little group some of his life story. At the age of 16, he left home to travel through the world for the next 20 years, always searching for happiness, fulfillment and a peace of heart.
He had gone through several marriages. Nowhere could he find what he sought. Back in Naples, he witnessed his sister’s courage in her suffering through a terminal sickness. Santo saw where she found her strength, in the Lord Whom he had known as a boy. He turned to prayer at this time and began to find a quietness, a peace in his spirit that he had never experienced in all his years of traveling.
At much sacrifice, my new friend had come to Jerusalem to pray and deepen his faith in this Jesus of Nazareth. Joining our little group, all of us strangers just a few days earlier, Santo went with us to the various holy places in and around Jerusalem. As I offered Mass in these shrines, I noticed the devotion of this young man, kneeling on the cold floors of the Churches and Chapels, his eyes closed, in silent communion with His Lord.
Jesus said, “No one who comes to Me will ever hunger or thirst.” People, all of us, are like Santo, hungering and thirsting for peace, courage to face life, and experience a sense of fulfillment in our vocation in life. Santo never felt that until he rediscovered the Christ of his boyhood.
We can begin by thinking of the Eucharist which brings this Lord into our hearts. See in this Holy Bread, the beginning of a deep attachment. Christ did not hold anything against Santo from past happenings. He accepted my friend completely and wholeheartedly into His close friendship.
Santo acted as a sign to me from God, with God saying, “See what I can do for My friends if they trust and love in Me?”
Fr. George Mc Kenna