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The Priest – The Almoner of God’s Riches


For 19 years I served as Spiritual Director of First Year seminarians at Quigley Seminary of the Chicago Archdiocese.  Quigley, a day school, named after an early Chicago Bishop, compressed a four year High School Course and two years of College into a five year period.  This Minor Seminary acted as a feeder for the Major Seminary at Mundelein, Illinois.  Registration came to an average of 850 students each year!  How thrilling to teach at a school where I was once a student!  10% of 1st year boys became priests.

During those 19 years, I heard confession twice and often three times a school day in our splendid Gothic Chapel.  Most of the young men attended daily Mass in their parishes and confessed their sins weekly in Quigley.  I thought this work of guiding the students along the ways of Christ-like living has to be the best position in the Archdiocese.  In daily Chapel talks, I was able to hold before them the highest ideals of prayerfulness and loving service of God.

My words to them fell back into my own spiritual life, encouraging me to serve the Lord with greater love and dedication.  I found that I could best help these young men by offering them the powerful graces of the Sacrament of Penance.  Week after week, they approached the confessional, to tell of the week past and their progress in serving God.

In many areas of priestly ministry, I have earned only fair marks, but I thrill that, in one place of service, I have succeeded beyond my dreams.  In receiving penitents in confession, I have always treated them with kindness and gentleness.  No matter what their sins were, how serious, how numerous, I sat there delighted that I could bring God’s peace and forgiveness to them.  I rarely asked questions or delved into anything they had confessed.  My message was, “I have forgiven everything in your life.  You are in perfect condition.  God says so.  Go in peace!”

As a priest, I acted as the Almoner, the “dispenser” of God’s riches.  In ages past, kings appointed persons to acts as Almoners, “dispenser” of their charitable works.  When the poor and needy came to the castle looking for help, the Almoner of the King would provide for them.  In the Sacrament of Penance, I dispensed healing graces into the wounded souls of the penitents.

If I can help anyone in need of confession, perhaps you’ve been away one or forty years, please give me the privilege of saying, “I absolve you from your sins in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”  Only a few minutes are necessary.         

Fr. George Mc Kenna

November 3, 2012 - Posted by | Bulletins

5 Comments »

  1. Wonderful thought!

    Comment by Anonymous | November 3, 2012 | Reply

  2. I was one of those first year students at Quigley way back in 1954. Is it possible that it was almost 60 years ago?I remember with great fondness that Gothic chapel and Father McKenna.I remember him sending me books for spiritual reading during the summer, with little notes of encouragement..Small acts of kindness, but so meaningful.The priest as almoner, bestows God’s greatest gift , God’s mercy.
    In this materialistic and egocentric world, kindness is often in short supply. Fr. McKenna is one of the penultimate practitioners of kindness.We can all be practitioners of kindness.Acts of kindness can be small things in our eyes, but to the person receiving, and especially to God,they can be huge. Rich Pozdol QPS ’59

    Comment by Richard J. Pozdol | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  3. I, too, was one of Father McKenna’s penitents, from 1953 to 1958. He was unparalled in his sweetness and kindness, and there has never been another priest like him for me, ever! God bless you, Father Mckenna.

    Comment by Joseeph C. Owens | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  4. I was my Uncle’s pentitents once as well. His confession was kindest and very gentle. I can vouch for his confession.

    Comment by Mike McKenna | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  5. Hi Father George! I am so happy to tell you that I am coming into town for Christmas. I will try VERY hard to come up and see you! If the weather cooperates, I do want to come and see you. I am sorry that I haven’t written much lately, I have been volunteering for the election and doing a lot of calls, etc… You are in my thoughts and prayers, Fr. George. I miss you and love you. You are such a kind man, Fr. George. I pray that God blesses you daily. Love, Nancy

    Comment by Nancy Westvang | November 5, 2012 | Reply


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