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The Importance Of Family

Fr. McKenna’s Nieces and Nephews, About 1966

My brother Frank has 5 children from the ages of 9 down to 3. I think that he practices more virtue in one day than I do in a month. Patience, Forgiveness, Perseverance . . . you name the virtue and a parent has to have it.

The home is the training school for later life. The children learn from their parents. Unconsciously they pick up the attitudes of their parents. If the parents say one thing and the school says another, the attitude of the parents will win out over the school. This is certainly a crushing reality and responsibility to the parent; they have immense power to form the child one way or another.

Doing things together brings a closeness, a stronger bond of union. I remember one priest telling me that in one of his parishes, he did not feel close with his Pastor, or even care too much for him. But when they lost their housekeeper, the two of them began to wash dishes together and over the kitchen sink a new friendliness and understanding sprang up. Families can learn from the bond formed by these two men. Parents and children doing things together will increase the closeness and bond between them. Doing dishes, making beds, gardening during the spring, playing catch. Children grow quickly, so the best time is now – don’t wait, and if you did wait, still do it now, it’s never too late.

Communication is important. If you are angry, talk out your feelings. Express your sadness, downheartedness, your depression or fear. By bringing them out in the open, the family members will be more receptive and understanding to the feelings of others. When these feelings are held in, tension builds and unhappiness develops. Like a finger cut that is not treated, these feelings fester and become a growing sore that weakens the morale of the home.

Children not only grow physically from the traits of their parents, but they are influenced by the attitudes, beliefs, emotions, and habits of their parents. Look into your home life today and ask yourself, “What am I contributing to my children, my spouse, my family?”

Fr. George McKenna

Uncle George didn’t always date his original articles when creating them. From the ages of his nieces and nephews provided in the first sentence, this reflection on family life was probably written sometime in 1968. 51 years later, Fr. McKenna’s messages are still relevant.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , | 5 Comments


Fr. McKenna provided Joy to many in his years at Quigley. This picture is from the 1964 Yearbook, he was the Spiritual Director for 3rd Year Students

Years ago, while in Rome, I visited the Pontifical North American College, situated on a high piece of ground overlooking St. Peter’s Square.  The College, with a four year course in Theology, prepares students for Ordination to the Priesthood.  Our American Bishops send their brightest men to this prestigious school.  Needless to say, I am not an alumnus of PNAC.

I sat in the first pew in the Chapel to listen to the Rector speak to the men on the necessity of Joy in the life of a priest.  Joy is the happiness of the spirit!  A priest without joy is just a shell of a priest.  We can say that about all people.  A life without Joy is just a shell of a life, no matter what gifts we have.

The Rector gave a simple formula for keeping Joy in our lives.  We are to keep a hierarchy of persons in our hearts.
JOY = Jesus, Others, You!

Christ must occupy first place in our hearts.  Then comes Others.  And finally, in last place is Ourselves.  If any serious evil rests in our hearts, Christ cannot rule there.  We have set up a false god!  Even if we allow less serious evils remain in our spirit, like unloving ways of living, we lessen the influence of Christ.  Joy has less chance to be a part of our life.

The Rector emphasized the importance of “Others”.  He told a simple story that I’ll always remember.  One time, an old man, without family or visitors, lay dying in a charity ward in St. Louis, the hometown of the Rector.  A despairing spirit filled his mind and heart.  Then a young doctor began walking through the ward each day, and as he passed the bed of the old man, the doctor would tweak the man’s big toe.  No words were spoken, but in a special way though, the young doctor reached out to the dying man and indicated, “I see you, I notice you.”  The man died in peace.

If Joy is to be ours, we have to look about us to see how we can help others pursue their dreams for happiness.  Even our dog at home wants us to pat him on the head, and caress his ears.  Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on one compliment.”  Joy will come in the back door of our hearts if we follow the Rector’s formula for happiness of spirit.

At this time, I was in Rome for our Annual Meeting of Catholic Airport Chaplains.  For four days, Chaplains from many European and American Airports prayed together, shared ideas about helping the traveling public and reminded each other of the wonderful chances we have to assist God’s people in our work.  A great joyful spirit filled our days.

Fr. George McKenna


February 23, 2019 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , | 6 Comments