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Communication – The Foundation of Love and Respect

In the summer of 1968, after spending 5 years at Christ The King parish in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, Fr. McKenna was transferred to St. Richard’s Parish at 50th and Kenneth, a mere 1.5 mile walk from Midway Airport. Little did he realize at that time how important this area would be to him during the last three decades of his life. It was a big change for Fr. George; he was going to be a full time associate pastor for the first time since his ordination 24 years earlier – no more teaching at his beloved Quigley Seminary. As I go through his old writings – many just typed written notes for his homilies, I am still amazed at how relevant his messages are for all of us today. This post is from his homily at St. Richard’s on Sunday October 6, 1968. The message is to his new parishioners – but is relevant to all settings in life – parish, family, work, community.

Fr. George at Midway Airport, 1997 Photo from Chicago Sun-Times Archives.

I believe strongly in communication – a sharing of ideas with those close to me. Through the years as a teacher, I have always given my students many chances through the school year to communicate with me. They could always write about what they thought of our class and how it was conducted. Oftentimes the thoughts expressed were difficult to swallow, but at least it kept me, as teacher, from living in a dream world. I knew what the students were thinking from their honest written thoughts. If at all possible, their suggestions were used. They felt better because someone was listening to them.

Here in our grammar school I have continued this practice and give the children chances to write down their thoughts each week when I go into their rooms. This has built up a climate of good will; we are sharing our lives in some little way together.

We, priests and people, must continue our efforts to communicate with each other. We know what happens in the family circle when members stop talking to each other or if they continue to talk to each other but don’t speak about the real issues on their minds. Oftentimes these issues or burning ideas fester in the mind and gradually and surely break down the spirit of the home. Love grows cold for each other.

This is true too, at the parish level. When we share out thoughts and ideas together, priests and people, when we tell what issues are disturbing our minds, we set up a atmosphere of trust and mutual respect. Communication presupposes a faith, a belief in one another. I share my thoughts and ideas with those whom I trust will give an understanding ear to them. We are open to these people.

This does not necessarily mean that people communicating tell each other only pleasant things. Some parts of the communication may be hard to accept. I referred to this in my experience as a teacher. The most powerful element of communication is telling the truth, at least as we see it.

In conclusion, we encourage you to share your thoughts with us about the church in the world, or regarding our own parish. We are truly interested in what you are thinking, what you are happy about, or what might be disturbing you. There are many ways to communicate. Write a letter, come up to us at parish events, school meetings, before or after Mass, drop into the rectory, or pick up the phone and call. In truly communicating with each other we are laying the foundation of mutual love and respect.

Let me finish with the closing paragraph from Cardinal Cody’s letter: “If our age is one of challenge and change, it is equally an age of great opportunity. A new era of the church has begun. With God’s help and our own mutual trust and helpfulness, it can be a splendid era for all of us.”

Fr. George P. McKenna

May 24, 2019 - Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , ,


  1. Love this

    Comment by Anonymous | May 24, 2019 | Reply

  2. As a retired Professor of Communications from Georgetown and George Washington Universities I strongly echo Father’s comments on the importance of communication. I also enjoyed the picture as I frequently flew through Midway in the late ’90 and got to know Father at the Midway Chapel.l

    Comment by barttimm | May 24, 2019 | Reply

  3. This speaks to what ails our country. Effective trusting communication has broken down. Yes this message is as true today as it was when written. As hard as it may seem, we need to trust one another and share our thoughts.

    Comment by Tom Simcoe | May 25, 2019 | Reply

  4. These writings are why I miss him, He was a very special man.

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

    Comment by matt marich | May 27, 2019 | Reply

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