Ever notice how negative the world has become when discussing the Roman Catholic Church?
I for one am proud to call myself a Roman Catholic, and become agitated with those who demean our faith without any firsthand knowledge. My real angst, though, is reserved for those who were raised Roman Catholic but are no longer practicing.
Let me be clear! I do not minimize in any way the harm inflicted by those clergy who have damaged and harmed countless faithful people. But lost in the conversations today are the many more priests who labor tirelessly for their parishes, bearing the weight of their fellow priests’ sins without complaint. And the deceased priests who led many to a deeper relationship with Christ.
These are the priests we need to pray for every day. My pastors in New England feel praying for our priests is the most important thing we can do to help them. And as we come to the end of October, the month of Mary, the Mother of our Church, I feel it is fitting to recount and share memories of those priests who truly could be called Disciples of Christ. We have great Church leaders, and it is well worth the effort to remind others of them.
Please feel free to share your memory of a special priest!
Father Kenny was the first pastor of St. Columban Catholic Church in Birmingham, Michigan … a church my father and many others wanted built in the early 1950s. This church soon became the center of our family life. Father Kenny would visit our home many times to dine and discuss the growth of his small parish. After a few years, the members wanted to build a school so their children could be raised with Catholic values.
Father Kenny presided over this new endeavor.
On Sept 17, 1958, grades one through four opened, with subsequent grades added each year. By 1964, more than 505 students were in attendance in grades one through eight, and a new wing was added. This was a bustling school, staffed with IHM Sisters and a pastor who was involved in every aspect of our education. Once a week he came to a classroom to teach the religion lesson. He would allow us to touch the sacred vessels used during Mass, and he was the one who helped prepare us to receive the Sacraments.
Father Kenny also made sure sports were part of our education. Since baseball uniforms and equipment were not fiscally feasible, he began teaching all students the game of soccer. He loved any and all holidays, but having been raised in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day was his favorite. He made sure our school celebrated the right way, too, by teaching students the songs and dances he knew; he also would bring samples of food from his homeland.
When I was eight years old he taught me the power of God’s forgiveness and the need to atone by doing the right thing. During my First Reconciliation, I confessed to stealing ten pieces of bubble gum, fully expecting a penance of ten Our Fathers. Instead, he had me personally apologize and give ten cents, the price of the gum, to the store owner. To this day I can recall how great I felt afterward!
I loved Father Kenny. He was my first pastor, a wonderful teacher of the Catholic faith, and remembered by many for his devotion and dedication to Jesus Christ and His teachings.
Copyright 2019 Carol Bannon