Some thoughts about coming to OMGC in Bryn Mawr

[the second half of my homily for July 10, 2016  

the first part was about contemporary violence and the Good Samaritan]

Let me begin by sharing with you a little bit about me
and about how I see my role here at Our Mother of Good Counsel. 

I was born in Darby, Pennsylvania, just about 8 miles from here.
After finishing Blessed Virgin Mary Parish School, I went to Monsignor Bonner High School in Drexel Hill. Then I became a friar in the Order of St. Augustine and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest nine years later.
After one year of ministry in a parish in upstate New York, I was sent to the Augustinian missions in Japan. I worked there for 18 wonderful years. I returned to the United States in the summer of 1995.

After working in a parish in Massachusetts for one year, I requested a leave of absence from priestly ministry and Augustinian community life. For 12 years I worked in companies in the Boston area – mostly in international telecommunications and then IT in the healthcare sector.

In 2008 after years of prayerful consideration I requested permission to return to the Order of St. Augustine. Happily, my request was honored and in May of that year I was assigned to the Augustinian Community in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Father Jack Denny was the pastor and Brother Bill Harkin was pastoral associate.
3 Bonner grads!!  Father Jack and Brother Bill welcomed me very warmly. They were very helpful. They greatly facilitated my return to active priestly ministry and to Augustinian community life. My 14 months living with them was a wonderful time of many graces and blessings.

After Maggie Valley, I was assigned to St. Mary’s Church in Lawrence, Massachusetts for one year. Most recently, for the past 6 years I was assigned to Our Lady of Good Counsel in Staten Island, New York.

In April of this year, Father Michael DiGregorio, our prior provincial, told me that my next assignment would be to come here to OMGC as Father Jack’s assistant pastor.
I was extremely happy at the prospect of working with Father Jack and Brother Bill again. It was like getting the old gang together again!

Then just four days later we received the devastating news about Father Jack’s cancer diagnosis.

On the morning of Saturday, June 18, one of our friars, Father Joe Murray, was ordained to the priesthood at St. Thomas to Villanova Church. Immediately after the ordination I drove over to Bryn Mawr Hospital to visit Father Jack.

I went into his room. He had lost a lot of weight.
His words were coming very, very slowly.
But he had not lost his wonderful smile.

I told him, “Jack, I was really looking forward to working with you again. It looks like that is not to be. But I promise you that I will do my best to continue the great work that you have been doing at OMGC. So, I’ve come here to ask for your blessing.” His smile got bigger and he said, “Sure, Liam,” as he raised his right hand to give me his blessing. I quickly genuflected to receive his blessing, made the sign of the cross and stood up again. I mumbled my thanks for all that he and Brother Bill had done for me in North Carolina, pledged him my prayers and left the room. The whole visit was probably less than two minutes.  I am so glad that I had that short visit with him!!

Father Jack passed from this life about 36 hours later. 

At his Friday funeral I saw Father Jack’s Mother before Mass. I went over to her, expressed my condolences and introduce myself: “Mrs. Denny, I don’t know if you remember me, but I’m Liam O’Doherty.”
“Oh yes,” she said, “You’re going to replace John at Bryn Mawr.”

I replied, “Oh, Mrs. Denny, nobody can replace Jack. But I promise to do my best to continue his work.”

And that’s what I intend to do – to work with you all and to continue his work.

For a year or so I will listen and observe and work very hard to get to know you and the parish.  When I became pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Staten Island six years ago, Cardinal Dolan told me: “during the first year the only thing you should change is your socks.”
Of necessity there may be some things that will have to change,
but I don’t expect there to be many of those situations.

After 40 years as a priest, I have come to believe that the most important thing a priest can do it is to help his people fall more deeply in love with Jesus Christ.

The best thing a priest can do for his people is to help them have hearts on fire for Jesus, the Lord who loves them.

Some of the ways that a priest does this are through:
¤ prayer
¤ The liturgy and the sacraments
¤ and preaching.  
¤ ministering directly to the people  .... among others. 

I’ve already been praying for you all for a couple months.
I will continue to pray for you.  I promise to do that every day.

And I promise to prepare my homilies as carefully and as prayerfully as I can.  I take preaching very seriously.

One thing I must warn you about my homilies is that I have a tendency to repeat myself - a lot.
One thing I must warn you about my homilies is that I have a tendency to repeat myself - a lot.

You’re going to hear a lot about Oreos and milk.
And about my Dad and Mom, who got me started on this walk with Jesus.
And about baptism.
And about the Kingdom of God.
And about the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
And about His Second Coming.   And about the Holy Spirit.

And I promise that I will do my best to make a connection between the Sunday Gospel and the lives that you and I live Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

I’ve gone on longer than I usually do. I don’t usually preach this long. So let me end by asking for us to pray:
¤ For those whose lives have been snuffed out by violence
¤ For those who have lost loved ones to violence
¤ For those who live in fear of violence
¤ For those who mistakenly think that violence can solve anything. 

And let us pray for each other – priests and parishioners
Let us not only pray but let us take action as the Samaritan did.

It was the Samaritan who showed mercy.
It was the Samaritan who became neighbor.
Let us learn by his example. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank-you for posting this! I missed hearing you that Sunday. It is a joy having you as my pastor. I am a relatively new Catholic, about 10 years, and I love my church, and hearing someone who loves Jesus. I have been called to help others and need to be regularly "fed" His word, His body and blood, and to hear someone who helps me understand it all better!
Deborah Boss-Cadet