God is Good!

Seek the Lord while He may be found!

One Story Can Change Our Life

Via Wikipedia

Via Wikipedia

We can begin by telling how one story changed the life of our Pope Francis.  As a youth, Jorge (George)Mario Bergoglio grew up in modest family surroundings, shielded from the poor of his town in Argentina.  Then, one day, in his late teenage years, he read the life of St. Francis of Assisi, Italy. 

The 13th Century Saint showed himself a man of simplicity of life, in regard to clothes, habitations (often he slept under the stars) and food.  St. Francis and his followers begged for food only for the day at hand, not for the next day.  The story fascinated Jorge and opened up his mind to the plight of the poor.  From the start of his Priesthood, as a Jesuit, he tried to imitate the life of Francis of Assisi as much as he could.

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he spent much time walking through the barrios (poverty stricken habitations) of the great city.  He seldom visited the courts of the wealthy.  As Pope Francis, he continues to follow this way of life.  One story gave him a new way to live.

The reader might be asking, “What story changed the life of Father McKenna?”  My story took place 70 years ago in the spring of 1944, a few months before my Ordination to the Priesthood.  One late evening our Seminary Rector, Monsignor Hillenbrand, came to our Chapel to give his weekly talk to our ordination class of 33 men.  After a long day, many of us were dozing off, but fortunately, I fought to stay awake. 

In his soft, low voice, he told this story.  One day, the Rector said, while studying in Rome, he visited one of its many museums.  One large charcoal drawing struck him in a remarkable way.  This work of art showed a poorly clad, dirty faced beggar sitting on the steps of a splendid Cathedral.  With outstretched hand, he sought alms from those entering the edifice.  Behind the beggar stood the shining figure of Christ with his Hand directly underneath the hand of the beggar.  Whatever was given to the poor man was also put into the Hand of Christ.  This is a true picture of life.  As Jesus said, “What you do to the least one of mine, you do to me.”

This story has guided my life through 70 years of Priesthood.  When someone has put out his hand for help, in a real or symbolic way, I have nearly always put something there.  Sometimes the request was not for money, but for a listener, or forgiveness in confession for many grave sins.

The story, given 70 years ago, helped me to see the Face of Christ in all human beings in need of help.  Listen to stories!

Fr. George Mc Kenna

July 5, 2014 - Posted by | Bulletins | , , , ,


  1. …and that is the image that comes into my heart each time I chance to meet or see one who is downtrodden…if I cannot physically assist…I always prayerfully assist…this I learned from you Fr. George, from the first time you shared this story…what I never realized until today was that it came into your life shortly before your ordination…this image stays with me always…thank you forever for sharing it with us…like the ripple effect of a pebble tossed into the water…this story/image enters the heart of the reader…and touches the world! God’s Blessings, Love & Grace, Marianne

    Comment by mcs | July 5, 2014 | Reply

  2. Hi Fr. George! Another beautiful story filled with such rich writing, that I can imagine the scene perfectly! And that is wonderful how you shared YOUR story. If someone asked me, I would have to say YOU changed my spiritual life – by listening to you in the Midway Airport Chapel the two times when I needed to hear your words – it brought me back to the church and therefore changed me forever! Now, I am faithful and practice my faith wholeheartedly. THANK YOU!! I love you, Fr. George! You are often in my prayers and on my mind. I told the story of how we met to a niece yesterday. I always say that the Holy Spirit called me to the chapel that day for mass. What a wonderful gift!

    And now, YOU have a birthday coming up! I will continue to pray for you, my dear friend. You have blessed SO many over the years with your kindness and support. I hope that you feel that love and support returning to you. I’ll call you soon.


    Comment by nancywest22 | July 6, 2014 | Reply

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