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Friday, March 16, 2012

Saint Patrick''s Day: Fond Remembrances

I have fond memories of moments when Irish culture and folks just plain overwhelmed me.

The first man who ever spent any time with me was Father O'Rourke. I was living with my grandmother in Rosenberg, Texas. She was the housekeeper for the priests living there. And Father O'Rourke, who lived in the rectory took time with me personally to prepare me for my First Holy Communion. After he had done that I used to follow him around whenever I could. When he went walking through the church garden saying his prayers I would be walking right behind him saying mine, sometimes the Rosary, sometimes the prayer book. I would have my Rosary; I would have my prayer book. When folks would asked me why I chose to become a priest, I always have talked about Father O'Rourke.

When I went to Seattle Preparatory School, beginning with my sophomore year, Father Mike McHugh, Society of Jesus, chose to be my counselor, mentor, and support person for many years... from the time I was a teenager until I was approved for ordination in 1974. He, my mother and my grandmother, saw me through the ups and downs of teenage and young adult life.

When I went to Berkeley, California to study theology, Sister Dorothy Donnelley chose to reach out to me and to teach me how to listen to the feelings of other people and my own feelings. As I became more conscious of my feelings I became more aware of the loving presence of God with me and all around me.

So I thank the Lord for the wonderful people who have helped Joseph Oneal McGowan, Society of Jesus, to become the African American man who is determined to be a loving teacher and mentor to whomever God sends into my life.
Saint Patrick I salute you with this little sumation of your life's story


Mizu Sugimura said...

Joseph - Thank you for sharing some of the wonderful stories of people who have helped you on your journey. The cartoon biography of St. Patrick is sweet, informative and a gentle reminder of the meaningful history surrounding what many of us have come to recognize only in their secular and commercial incarnations. However as you kindly point out, knowing our history (whether personal, cultural or spiritual) roots only enrichens the lives we live today.
On behalf of some of the rest of us, I thank you most warmly!

JosephMcG said...

Mizu, thank you. Your sharings about your own life and cultural heritage is inspiring to me.

Lorraine Hart said...

I'm a little late to the celebration, but having the maiden name of McCorkle, I'm sure we're related, dear Joseph! The beautiful fact is, in sharing with each other, here in our cyber-neighbourhood, we have become family, learning from one another, celebrating our bond. Now, if we could only have that Star-Trek beam us together, around the same table. How many years have we been doing this now?