God is Good!

Seek the Lord while He may be found!

Happy Birthday Fr. George!

July 12, 1919 – Mary O’Malley McKenna gave birth to her 4th child, a son. She and her husband Patrick named the child George Patrick and he was welcomed into their Southside home by his older siblings, Catherine, John and Frank. Over the last 99 years, this humble son of Irish immigrants has touched the hearts, minds and souls of countless people across the world. His family knows him as Uncle George; his extended family – former residents of Maryville Academy, students, parishioners, chapel volunteers, travelers through Midway airport, and now readers worldwide know him affectionately as Fr. George.

In honor of his 99th Birthday, we are using excerpts from a few of his messages and homilies that highlight his 74 year career as a Catholic Priest. Please feel free to honor this truly remarkable servant of God by sharing your memories and words of love with us.

The Story Of The Lemon Cream PieWe remember loving people and their loving deeds. Back in the 1930s in the middle of the Great Depression, my Aunt Marie (also my godmother) would always bring a big lemon crème pie on her visits to our home. I had a special taste for the luxury desert. Aunt Marie knew! All this took place some eighty years ago; but every time I eat lemon cream pie, I think of my loving Aunt Marie and bless her. Pretend that we could come back in a second life, be reincarnated, with all the wisdom and experience of the first life in our possession. If God would ask me at this time, “What gift would you like to have? Ask for anything you wish!” – I wouldn’t ask for riches, high social position, a sharp intelligence. My request would be: “Lord, make me a loving person”.

Why this gift? The people who helped me the most in life were loving persons, such as my Aunt Marie, teachers who spoke positive, encouraging words and respected me despite my failures. In the presence of gentle friends, I found myself at ease. Only the love of my parents and family made it possible for me to grow and mature in a normal way.

A Classic Time to Express LoveBack on Valentine’s Day, 1933, as an Eighth Grader in St. Theodore’s School, I came into my classroom after lunch. To my surprise, I found a tiny, candy heart, no bigger than a postage stamp, on my desk. Written on this precious gift were the words . . . “I Love You”. My boyish spirits went sky high. Someone in my class cares for me, I cried out to myself. Which one of the five or six girls did this, I wondered. That didn’t matter. I must be worth something. After all these years, this experience stays with me to raise my spirits and prove to me the power of those words . . . “I Love You.” When victims of 9/11 were cell-phoning their last words to family members, at the end, they said . . . “I Love You.” Hopefully, they had spoken those precious words many times in the past. In the past, when friends said to me . . . “I Love You” . . . my only response in shyness, was, “Oh, thank you.” I falsely thought that a priest is not supposed to say . . . “I Love You.” People might take it in the wrong way. Now, with the onset of some wisdom, I answer . . . “I Love You Too!”

Life In The Priesthood 1944 – 2013On May 6, 1944, Cardinal Samuel Stritch conferred the gift of Priesthood on our class of 25 young men. We took on the solemn vows of celibacy and obedience to our Bishop, along with the duty to say our Breviary daily (45 Minutes of prayers).

My first appointment sent me to Maryville Academy, operated by Catholic Charities – a home for 850 children. Conditions at home kept them at Maryville all year round. The staff consisted of 60 Montreal Nuns and five Priests. Schooling went from kindergarten to four years of high school. I spent five hectic years there. Work days were 15 hours long and my salary was $50.00 a month, with one day off a week. On the front lawn our supervisor, Monsignor Mulcahey, had built a life size replica of the Grotto of Lourdes, with little Bernadette always kneeling there in silent prayer. In later years, this became my favorite Marian Shrine, inspiring me to visit Lourdes, France 15 times.

In 1949, my journey took me to Quigley Prep Seminary in Chicago, a day school, to teach 1st year youngers aspiring for the Priesthood. For 19 years, while living in 4 different parishes, I was the Spiritual Director for freshman boys. Sixty priests took care of the 1,000 enrollment of students in the 5 year course. The goodness of these youngsters inspired me to reach for the highest ideals in my priesthood.

In 1959, four of us priests took an 8-week journey to visit fifteen countries in Europe – my first ever visit abroad. Jerusalem captured my heart and I went there 27 times over the years. After 19 years, I left Quigley with mixed emotions and served as a Parish Priest, several times as a Pastor.

Take RisksIn September, 1975, at age 56, with Cardinal John Cody’s permission, I went to Dublin, Ireland to attend a three month Ministry course with the Redemptorists Fathers. The idea came to me on my birthday that year: “Go and renew yourself while there is time.” No priest in Chicago had ever taken such a Sabbatical. It took risk on my part. I met 34 priests from many countries . . . new vigor came into my Priesthood. Now, Sabbaticals are routine in Chicago. A year later, Cardinal Cody again gave me permission to travel, this time to work in the Fairbanks, Alaska Diocese. This huge, 270,000 square mile Diocese only had 36 priests. They served a mostly Eskimo population that had migrated from Mongolia, a country in China. At this “late age” I would be fulfilling my youthful dream in regard to the China Mission.

When I was assigned to Our Lady of the Snows parish on Chicago’s Southside, I would take walks around Midway Airport for exercise. On cold days I would stop in to warm up and began to think – There is no formal chapel for these world travelers to visit and spend time in prayer. My idea became a mission, and on July 24, 1988, at age 69, Midway Airport was dedicated! In 23 years, up to the age of 91, as Chaplain at Chicago Midway Airport, I met travelers from across the USA and the world at large. These were the happiest years of my life.

At 95Traveling to Europe and the Middle East gave me a deep interest in life and the different peoples of these countries. I didn’t travel as a sightseer, but as a pilgrim on pilgrimage to holy places. In my 20 visits to Paris, France and its environs, its shrines to many saints richly strengthened my Catholic faith. France’s saints became more real to me: St. Vincent DePaul, St. Catherine Laboure (The Miraculous Medal), St. Therese (The Little Flower), St. Mary Margaret Mary (The Messenger of the Sacred Heart), St. Bernadette of Lourdes (15 times I visited Lourdes), St. John Vianney (Cure of Ars).

In Italy, my travels took me to the shrine of St. John Bosco, St. Francis and St. Clare, both of Assisi, St. Pius X, and St. Padre Pio. I offered Mass at the tombs of all the above Saints, except for St. Bernadette of Lourdes. These experiences made me fall in love with my Priesthood and my Catholic Faith. My work as a Priest gave me much joy and sense of fulfillment and much help to my good health.

My 27 pilgrimages to the Old City of Jerusalem and its environs, Galilee, were carried out with one purpose in mind: to drink in the Spirit of Christ as much as possible. While I was in Calcutta, India, Mother Theresa and her Sisters taught me to see the Face of Christ in everyone. During my times as a missionary in Alaska, the Eskimos showed themselves to be a long suffering and gentle people, living in darkness and stormy weather most of the year.

Take Risks – When I was 89, I took my last trip to the Holy Land, my 27th, in 2008. At 92 years, still seeking ways to reach out and share this wonderful message of Jesus of Nazareth, I took the advice of my nieces and started my Blog – God Is Good. 7 years later it is still going strong – I now have 354 followers, and my simple messages have been viewed over 46,000 times from people in over 144 countries!

Fr. George Mc Kenna

July 6, 2018 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , | 28 Comments

Signs On The Road Of Life

El Santuario de Chimayo
Dave Ruppert, Office of Indian Affairs and American Culture, National Park Service

Twenty four years ago I traveled to the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico, to visit a friend.  This state provides sheer delight to the eyes of a visitor: the serpentine Rio Grande River, mountains, long vistas of unparalleled beauty in the rolling plains, and colors no words can describe.  My friend lived in Albuquerque, a city on a bluff overlooking the Rio Grande.

I was interested in seeing the Marian Shrine of Chimayo, called the Lourdes of New Mexico. On our trip north to the shrine, I was impressed as never before of the importance of road signs.  With my local friend driving we came upon many helpful markers on our trip.  Because of these directional signs we were able to turn with confidence at all the major junctions, knowing we were on the right road.

All of us desire happiness, even in this life on earth. Everything we do, even our sins, is directed to bring happiness to ourselves.  God, in His Love for us, has given us signs on the road of life to lead us to through this earthly destination of happiness, peace and self-fulfillment.  These positive markers, The Ten Commandments, will point the way to the greatest measure of true happiness possible on this earth.

Returning from Chimayo, where we left our requests for help with Mary, we came to a highway junction without signposts. For the first time that day, we were forced to guess which route to take.  We guessed wrong, and that wrong turn ended up sending us in the wrong direction for an hour.  Some people look on the Ten Commandments as shackles and handcuffs which take away their freedom and liberty.  With disregard for these road signs, they wander into many unhappy situations, never arriving at their desired destination of lasting peace of soul in this life.  They lose their way , not for an hour, but sometimes forever.

One day a beggar asked Jesus for the gift of sight, “Lord, I want to see”. Of course, the Lord granted his request.  Daily, our prayer could be the same, “Jesus, we wish to see.”  We need spiritual sight to notice these most welcome sign posts God provides for us on our journey to Heaven.  As we drive along through the silence of the darkening highways of life, keep thinking of this one idea . . . keep alert and watchful for the road signs God gives us.

Mistakenly, many see the Ten Commandments as “Thou Shalt Nots”, negative statements.  But how positive they are!  “Reverence the One True God . . . Respect God’s Holy Name . . . Keep Holy the Day devoted to God . . . Respect one’s Mother and Father . . . Have Love for Others . . . Revere One’s own Sexuality and the Sexuality of Others . . . Respect the Property of Others . . . Be Truthful . . . Your Neighbors Spouse and Possessions are Precious, Respect Them.” Listen to the Word of God, look for His Signs of Hope and Love, travel through this earthly life, with a Loving and Caring Guide.

Fr. George McKenna

June 30, 2018 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , , | 4 Comments