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The Sign Of The Cross – An Act Of Faith

Fr. McKenna’s Year Book Picture from Quigley, 1966

Listeners can quickly forget the words of speakers and preachers.  Quite normal.  An hour after Mass, we might ask ourselves, “What did the old priest say at his homily?”  No answer might come.  However, a priest always hopes that his homily might touch the heart of someone in a lasting way.  So he keeps trying.

Allow me to tell of what happened during a homily time 44 years ago, in 1962, on Holy Trinity Sunday.  I was stationed at Our Lady of Knock Parish in Calumet City, a suburb of Chicago.  Holy Trinity Sunday turned out to be a beastly hot day.  Our Church had no air conditioning or fans.  As I proceeded down the main aisle to begin the 12:00 Mass, parishioners were wiping their faces of perspiration.

I shuddered as I thought of my five minute oration they were to suffer through.  At the sermon time, remember these were the Pre-Vatican II days, I made the sign of the cross to begin.  Suddenly, I saw a young boy, about 7 years old, in the first pew all by himself.  He made the Sign of the Cross in such a meaningful way, so reverently, that I embraced the beauty of this Sign of Faith as never before.

It were as if God had sent me an angel to remind me of the honor and reverence owed to this Greeting to God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  At that moment, I discarded my oration and called the boy to my side.  This child, I said to the people, just made the Sign of the Cross so beautifully, that I have made a resolution, in the last few seconds, to imitated him in all my days ahead.

He has agreed to show us how he, day after day, makes this mark of honor and love to God, the Father, our Creator, God the Son, our Redeemer and God the Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier.  The boy then showed the full church how he blessed himself.  Despite the heat, all eyes were on the child, maybe, I believe, an Angel.

Our making the Sign of the Cross can be a thrilling proclamation, or just an action with no meaning.

Fr. George P. McKenna



Dear Readers, 
So sorry for such a long dry spell of putting one of Uncle George’s messages out.  This past week Fr. McKenna celebrated his first birthday in Heaven – his 100th, on Friday, July 12th.  This particular message found me, I did not find it – and that is usually the way these things work.  Based on Uncle George’s comments about the date, this message was written in 2006.  I am struck by three things.

  1. That the weekend was extremely hot – and this weekend coming, the entire nation seems to be under a heat warning.
  2. That back in 1962, Fr. McKenna’s homilies were an agonizing 5 Minutes Long!!!  LOL.  I’d cherish to have two extra minutes from this Saint that gave us his “I’ll Only Speak For 3 Minutes”
  3. I am sure that today, there is someone out there from Our Lady Of Knock Parish that was struck by his message and still remembers this day – maybe even the little saint himself, now a grown man.

God’s Peace to all.  Joe.



July 17, 2019 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , | 11 Comments

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 | , , , , , | 4 Comments