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Brothers In Christ

My first blessing on the Day of my Ordination

My first blessing on the Day of my Ordination

There were times at my weekend Masses in Chicago Midway Airport when I would “con-celebrate” the Mass – meaning other priests would stand with me at the altar.  I would look about myself, in a loving way, and see many other priests gathered close to me – they were my deceased classmates who all had lived, worked and died in the active Priesthood.  In their pure white robes and stoles, these old friends would stand with hands reverently folded and eyes cast down.  They looked on the Lord face to face, just as St. Paul wrote . . . “We shall see Him as He is”  I recognized them all – Bruno, Jim, Pete, the three Toms. . .

In September, 1933, 256 Eight Grade Graduates came to Quigley Prep Seminary, near Holy Name Cathedral.  We were all strangers to each other and from different parts of Chicagoland.  On the first day, the teachers announced that 10% of us would reach the Priesthood.  Each one of us was determined to be in that 10%.  For the next 11 years, 5 at Quigley and 6 at the Major Seminary at Mundelein, we sat in the same classrooms, we ate together, we prayed together, we played together.

Our friendships deepened as our numbers would dwindle from year to year, until finally in 1944, twenty five of our original Quigley Freshmen were ordained into the Priesthood.  We had picked up eight additional candidates along the way, for a total of 33.  From many national backgrounds, we blended together to make our lives harmonious and truly happy.  We wished good things for each other as we picked out a different classmate each day for special prayers to God.

Through God’s mysterious Love, He sent me these lifelong friends to be with me, not only as I celebrated Mass in the little Midway Airport Chapel, but as I traveled through the crossroads of our world.  Ever loyal to the bonds of friendship we forged as young men, they continue to come to me, encouraging me to hold out to the end. . . “George, it’s worth all the struggles.  We look forward to welcoming you to Heaven.”  What a consoling presence!

In our last year in the Major Seminary, in the Chapel of the Sacred Orders, the words of St. Paul, written on the sanctuary wall, stared at us in the face, day after day. “Caritas Christi urget nos” . . . “Our love for Christ pushes us on.”  My 32 “concelebrants” never forgot those words in the many challenges they met in the Priesthood before death.  Their love for Christ kept them faithful until the end.  I am now the lone survivor of this great class of men, my dearest Brothers In Christ.

So, at the beginning of a New Year, 2017, I plan to keep those words before me – My Love For Christ Urges Me Forward.  I will do my utmost to walk in his footsteps with the little time left for me.  My 32 Heavenly classmates will encourage me every step of the way.

Fr. George Mc Kenna

December 31, 2016 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments