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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 | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. God bless you Fr. McKenna. You have been my inspiration since I was a student at Quigley.

    Comment by Anonymous | December 31, 2016 | Reply

  2. Ed Weston

    Comment by Anonymous | December 31, 2016 | Reply

  3. Fr. George You made me feel what you feel with this ‘talk’. Thanx for sharing. Very moving. Bill Laude

    Comment by William F. Laude | December 31, 2016 | Reply

  4. Dear friend, what a touching tribute to the men who were with you through your incredible journey to becoming a priest. And to see that you alone are the only one remaining, it touched my heart. I read it through tears and with a heavy heart, because I hate the thought of you leaving this world, but that is just selfish on my part. Our true reward will be in heaven with eternal paradise! I’m just so thankful that we forged our friendship 8 years ago around this time, the Holy Season. God bless you and thank you, dear friend, I have so much to be grateful for as a result of our friendship and your guidance. I love you, Fr. George! I will continue to pray for you and know that I think of you every single day.


    Comment by nancywest22 | December 31, 2016 | Reply

  5. Father George

    God has given us a true blessing in you. May He our loving Lord bless you greatly in 2017 !! May your year be filled with Peace and God’s love ❤️!

    Sent from my iPad


    Comment by Kathleen Fitzgerald | December 31, 2016 | Reply

  6. Thank you, as always Fr. McKenna. You continue to be a source of guidance to me. I remember when you first came to Saint Barnabas. I was amazed at your ability to remember names and how special that made me feel. As a school principal, I have endeavored to do the same thing with my students and staff. Thank you for demonstrating the importance of addressing someone by their first name.
    All my best,
    Martha Martin Maggiore

    Comment by Martha Martin | December 31, 2016 | Reply

  7. Dear Fr. George,

    Your post was forwarded to me by a friend of mine in Texas. Many thanks for all the years of your priesthood which encompasses many joys and sorrows but the greatest JOY is indeed yet to come! I don’t think there is such a thing as a “retired priest” but maybe one whose daily ministry has had to endure a change of activity and responsibility. You are still ministering to those around you and on the internet as well. I for one until today was not familiar with your name or your story. I enjoyed your posting very much. May 2017 be a Holy Year for you and all those whom you touch.

    Peace and Goodness,
    Fr. Neil Buchlein
    Madison, WV

    Comment by Fr. Neil Buchlein | December 31, 2016 | Reply

  8. Father George, you truly are a man of God and teach by example. Although you don’t acknowledge it yourself, your many kindnesses have left a mark on myself and others. One of which was when you went to my mothers gravesite for burial and I saw you were having difficulties walking, but you never gave it a second thought.
    If I could be a little of the christian you are, I would be happy.
    Thank you,

    Comment by Paul Weston | December 31, 2016 | Reply

  9. Ha[[u New Year Fr. McKenna. I remember your spiritual care from Maryville in Des Plaines. May you be blessed abundanty, Foprmerly, Pat Halla class of 1950.

    Comment by Patricia Weidinger | December 31, 2016 | Reply

  10. Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year to you. We think of you often and remember you always in our prayers. Captain Ron and Nancy Fuccillo

    Comment by Nancy Fuccillo | December 31, 2016 | Reply

  11. Fr. McKenna, You are such an inspiration to me. Now that I have reached my 70th year, how I wish I had known you 50 years ago. Your words are comforting , light hearted , refreshing. Please keep your good words coming, I need them.
    I know you are retired, but is there some way I could meet you? Just for 5 minutes, to be able to hold your hand would be so humbling for me. Thank you.
    Jan Berry:: janhberry@sgcblobal.net..

    Comment by Jan Berry | December 31, 2016 | Reply

  12. God Bless you Fr George for your ministry.
    Happy 2017
    Paul Krueger ( ’58’59 )

    Comment by Paul Krueger | December 31, 2016 | Reply

  13. Happy 2017, Father George! You have set an example for all.

    Ed Hoff
    Qiugley South Class of 1969

    Ed Hoff
    ITS Director
    Christian Brothers Services | A Lasallian Ministry
    Phone: 630.378.2931
    Fax: 630.226.2142

    Christian Brothers Services
    1205 Windham Parkway
    Romeoville | IL, 60446

    Comment by edhoff2014 | January 1, 2017 | Reply

  14. God Bless you Father, always. Your living example of the priesthood has always been so inspiring. I feel what a wonderful gift God has given us by sharing your love for Our Lord through your ministry and commitment to the priesthood. Happy and Blessed New Year.

    Comment by Karen Reichert | January 1, 2017 | Reply

  15. Keep running your race, Fr. MeKenna, of loving others as Christ loves. We’re cheering for you along with the great cloud of witnesses who worship along side you.

    Comment by Ed Miskovic | January 3, 2017 | Reply

  16. Incredible words of faith Fr. George…touching every heart…your grace-filled eloquence guides our journey! Grateful to the “Chief Pilot” for His Flight Plan…a route that granted me the joy of meeting you on your 60th Ordination Anniversary at MDW Chapel. You lead us Home to the Father…we, the sheep, learn so much from you! Your 32 brother priests are with you every step of the way…could you have ever imagined that you would be number 33…that too, a great testimony to your priesthood! God Bless you forever! You are so loved by all of us! Marianne

    Comment by mcs | January 4, 2017 | Reply

  17. Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year Fr. McKenna. May God hold you in the palm of His hand in 2017. Thank you. Pam Gervais

    Comment by Pamela Gervais | January 5, 2017 | Reply

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