Sunday, September 8
I continue to be both amazed and nourished by the unbelievably good and gracious people who come here and call Old St. Patrick’s their spiritual home. As we walk into each other’s lives, I stand in awe at the stories and the perseverance of the countless faces who make up the Body of Christ here at OSP.
This past week I had the honor of presiding at the funeral services of the late, great Mary Kay Kennedy. Married to Bill for just over 20 years before his passing a few years ago, I sure am grateful and glad the Kennedy’s found their way to Old St. Pat’s. I always enjoyed seeing them after masses and enjoying their friendship and laughter. Mary Kay was defined by her energy and her unstoppable spirit. Born in Omaha almost 85 years ago, Mary Kay Shanahan’s family made their way to Oak Park, Illinois where she attended Ascension Catholic School, Trinity High School, and Rosary College (now known as Dominican University).
What impressed me most about this dynamic woman is that she never let life’s disappointments throw her off course or stifle her faithful spirit. This is a woman who was married and widowed not once, but three times in her life. Having experienced the tremendous sadness of burying three husbands, Mary Kay was a person of indomitable strength who knew and believed that her life’s vocation was to keep loving and keep teaching the next generation. As her family said to me, she was a teacher by profession but her entire vocation was to be a life-long teacher by her example, her wisdom, her sense of humor, and most of all her lived Faith. Mary Kay didn’t have some simple, blind faith. On the contrary, she was a woman who loved to challenge the institution, not take things for granted, and she loved entering into dialogue and wrestling with the bigger questions. What I said of her at the funeral was that Mary Kay never got old. Yes, she was advanced in years and all of our bodies age, but her spirit and attitude remained forever young and tenacious. Reading and reflecting upon Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, and specifically The Beatitudes, at her funeral mass was most appropriate indeed. She lived the vision of Jesus as he looked upon the marginalized of society.
Holy, dynamic people like Mary Kay Kennedy are a wonderful reminder to all of us that we can’t let the Mission of the Gospel get old or stale. It’s not about an imperfect Church, but rather it’s about the energy and spirit of the gospel and the life and vitality that comes from welcoming, inclusive, and compassionate communities of faith like Old St. Pat’s.
Today is just another example of the impressive and hopeful life that comes forth from this place. On-campus today we welcome all the families who make up our Partners experience; our wisdom figures in Encore who have their first Café today; the newly ordained and energetic Father Jordan Neeck who’s coming back for his first mass here at Old St. Pat’s; Frances Xavier Warde School families who are going to “pack the pews” at the 5:00 to begin their 30th anniversary celebration; our Foundations high school kids are starting up today; numerous young families are here for baptisms of their newborns; and like every week, we welcome all of our new visitors and sustaining members who keep this place alive and vibrant.
Thank you! Thank you! May it never get old and may the holy examples of people like Mary Kay remind us again of the importance of handing this treasure of faith on to the next generation.
Father Tom Hurley