22 May 2018

Columban Fr Francis J. Keaney RIP


4 November 1934 – 13 May  2018

Fr Frank Keaney was one of six children born to John Keaney and Nora Theresa Curristan Keaney. They lived in Immaculate Conception Parish, Winchester, MA, within the Archdiocese of Boston, USA. (The parish was suppressed in 2004). 

Winchester Town Hall [Wikipedia]

The young Frank attended Noonan Public School, and later studied at Winchester Junior High School, Winchester High School, and Bentley College, Boston. As an adult, he worked in the accounting department of Revere Sugar Company, later renamed Domino Sugar.

When Frank decided that he wanted to become a priest he studied at the School of St Philip Neri for delayed vocations in order to familiarize himself with Latin. He then entered the Columban seminary in Milton, MA in 1957.

Health issues centering on his thyroid gland resulted in the
postponement of his ordination to the priesthood by six months. He was ordained in June 1966 at St Columbans Major Seminary, Milton, MA, with Jeremiah F. Minihan, the auxiliary bishop of Boston, as the presiding prelate.

In July 1967 he was appointed to the Philippines. After language studies he became assistant pastor in Holy Rosary Parish in Oroquieta, Misamis Occidental, but had to undergo surgery on his thyroid gland at the end of that year. During the years that followed, up until 1988, Father Frank ministered in the churches of St Michael the Archangel in Iligan City, as well as St Francis Xavier, Lopez Jaena, and St Matthew, Aloran, both in Misamis Occidental.

St Matthew's Catholic Church, Aloran [Facebook]

Despite his limitations with the local language, Father Frank found ways to communicate with the local people. Furthermore, he strove not only to remember the names of those who crossed his path, but also their relationship with one another. It was clear to the Filipino people that his heart was in the right place.

During those decades that he spent in the Philippines, and for many years after he returned home, Father Frank provided assistance to numerous children of poor families, which enabled them to obtain high school and college education. He understood that by helping an individual poor student to succeed, he was indirectly lifting an entire family out of poverty.

St Michael's Cathedral, Iligan City [Wikipedia]

In 1980 Father Frank did Clinical Pastoral Education at Bon Secours Hospital (later renamed Holy Family Hospital) while on home vacation.

Though he continued to be assigned to the Columban District of Ozamiz in the Region of the Philippines, from January 1989 Father Frank was given compassionate leave in order to support his brother Terry, who had special needs. After his assignment to the US Region in 1997, he continued to support Terry, and later lived with him in the family home in Winchester.

During those years, Father Frank became known for his compassion for and patience with those who were suffering, whether his own brother, or his Columban confreres in the retirement home in Bristol, Rhode Island, or neighbours and relatives in nearby hospitals or nursing homes.

Statue of St Columban, St Columban's, Bristol, RI

At the time of his brother, Terry’s death in May 2015, Father Frank’s physical and mental health was already in decline. During these last three years, despite the challenges that resulted from a faltering memory, a broken hip, as well as various ailments, his family insisted on caring for him in the family home. He did, however, have spells in care facilities, and died at the Vibra Hospital in Rochdale, MA, where he had spent the last few months adjusting to a tracheotomy.

Fr Keaney's Funeral Mass was celebrated at nearby St Charles Borromeo Church. The principal celebrant was Fr Chuck Lintz with Fr Tim Mulroy delivering the homily. Several other Columbans and the two nurses from the Columban retirement home in Bristol were among those in attendance. Afterwards, Father Frank was laid to rest in the Keaney family plot in nearby Calvary Cemetery, Winchester. He is survived by one sibling, Joan Keaney Cole, and a large number of nieces and nephews.

May Father Frank rest now in the peace of Christ.

Fr Tim Mulroy

'I am with you always.' Sunday Reflections, Trinity Sunday, Year B

Holy Trinity, Jusepe de Ribera [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel Matthew 28:16-20 (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition)

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

Words by Blessed John Henry Newman
Stanzas 1, 2, 3 and 6 sung here.

From the evening of 23 May until the morning of 1 June in 2012 I was giving a retreat to a group of Canossian Daughters of Charity. They included four novices and seven professed Sisters, including one from Malaysia.Their foundress, St Magdalene of Canossa bequeathed to the Sisters the mission of 'making Jesus known and loved above all'. This comes from a stance of standing at the foot of the Cross with Mary.

During my talks each morning I shared many stories of individuals who had made Jesus known to me, usually with no awareness that they were doing so. Some were persons I knew. Some are now dead. Some I met only once in passing, never learning their names. Most were poor. I know that my stories triggered off similar memories among the Sisters of people who had made Jesus known to them as the Sisters in turn had made him known to those they were serving.

I saw all of this in the context of the Communion of Saints, the angels and saints in heaven, the members of the Church on earth, the souls in purgatory. The story of creation tells us that we are made in the image of God. But what the author of that first account of creation didn't know is that God is a Community of Three Persons. Made in God's image, we are made to be in community with others.

Jusepe de Ribera's painting of the Holy Trinity above, like a number of other paintings, shows the dead Christ. The expression on the face of the Father shows suffering. It is very similar to the face of the father in Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son, painted about thirty years later. I don't know if Rembrandt was familiar with de Ribera's painting.

Return of the Prodigal Son (detail), Rembrandt [Web Gallery of Art]

The Blessed Trinity call us into the circle of their life through suffering. We know the suffering of Jesus. Some of the great artists show to us something of the suffering of the Father.

One of the stories I told involved two persons I met only once, a mother and her daughter aged about 13. When they first approached me outside a retreat house in Cebu City on the morning of Holy Thursday 1990. I made an excuse that I was only visiting. When I went inside I later saw the two of them sitting on the steps. The daughter had her head on her mother's shoulder. Clearly, they were tired and hungry. When I was leaving I gave them enough to buy breakfast. The young girl looked at me with the most beautiful smile I've ever seen and said to me, Salamat sa Ginoo! 'Thanks to the Lord!' She wasn't thanking me but inviting me to thank the Lord with her and her mother for his goodness. Through her hunger and tiredness she had come to know something of God's bountiful love.

That young girl has been calling me into the life of the Holy Trinity for more than 28 years now. I've no idea what became of her. I went to the Philippines in 1971 to do my part in making disciples of all nations and have baptised many in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. But that young girl, and many others like her, have been constantly teaching me to observe all that I have commanded you and assuring me in the name of Jesus, I am with you always, to the close of the age.

Antiphona ad Introitum   Entrance Antiphon

Benedictus sit Deus Pater,
Blest be God the Father
Unigenitusque Dei Filius,
and the only Begotten Son of God,
Sanctus quoque Spiritus,
and also the Holy Spirit,
quia fecit nobiscum misericordiam suam.
for he has shown us his merciful love.

This is the Offertory Verse in the Mass in the Extraordinary Form (the 'Old Mass' or 'Tridentine Mass' in the 1962 Missal).

17 May 2018

'As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ Sunday Reflections, Pentecost, Year B

Pentecost, Sir Anthony van Dyck [Web Gallery of Art]

Vigil Mass

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Mass during the Day

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel John 20:19-23 (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition)

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’
John 15:26-27; 16:12-15 may also be used.

Mysteries of Faith, Guido Reni [Web Gallery of Art]

Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you . . . Receive the Holy Spirit.

Today's feast of Pentecost is a celebration of our being given a mission by Jesus himself: so I send you. This mission is lived mainly in our daily life, in our family, in our workplace and in the way we become involved in the life of the wider community. Gaudium et Spes, one of the major documents of the Second Vatican Council, devotes much space to the latter. In No 75 of that document it states: All citizens, therefore, should be mindful of the right and also the duty to use their free vote to further the common good

We in the Republic of Ireland will be voting on Friday 25 May in what is perhaps the most important issue to face the people since independence in 1922. We are being asked to delete the current wording of Article 40.3.3, known as 'The Eighth Amendment' from the Constitution because it was inserted as such in a referendum in 1993, and to replace it with different wording. 

The current article readsThe State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right. This subsection shall not limit freedom to travel between the State and another state. This subsection shall not limit freedom to obtain or make available, in the State, subject to such conditions as may be laid down by law, information relating to services lawfully available in another state.

The proposed replacement readsProvision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.

If a majority votes 'Yes' for this change the government proposes to legalise abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. After 12 weeks the proposed legislation would allow for abortion in certain circumstances.

Nos 27 of Gaudium et Spes, promulgated in 1965, speaks very specifically 53 years later to what faces Irish voters this week: 

27 . . . Furthermore, whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person . . . all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are supreme dishonor to the Creator.

Pope Francis in his encyclical on Care for Our Common Home, Laudato Si’ , says in No 12o: Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? 'If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away'.

Jesus says to us in John 10:10, I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Please pray that we in Ireland will affirm life, not only by our vote but by everything we do to protect and nourish life, particularly for those in difficult situations. The Holy Spirit is speaking to us this Pentecost in a very specific situation of life and death and is asking us in Ireland, with the help of the prayers of people throughout the world, to proclaim the God of life through our vote. 

Veni Sanctus Spiritus
(Sequence for Mass on Pentecost Sunday)

Veni, Sancte Spiritus,
et emitte caelitus
lucis tuae radium.

Come, Holy Spirit,
send forth the heavenly
radiance of your light.

Veni, pater pauperum,
veni, dator munerum
veni, lumen cordium.

Come, father of the poor,
come giver of gifts,
come, light of the heart

Consolator optime,
dulcis hospes animae,
dulce refrigerium.

Greatest comforter,
sweet guest of the soul,
sweet consolation.

In labore requies,
in aestu temperies
in fletu solatium.

In labor, rest,
in heat, temperance,
in tears, solace.

O lux beatissima,
reple cordis intima
tuorum fidelium.

O most blessed light,
fill the inmost heart
of your faithful.

Sine tuo numine,
nihil est in homine,
nihil est innoxium.

Without your grace,
there is nothing in us,
nothing that is not harmful.

Lava quod est sordidum,
riga quod est aridum,
sana quod est saucium.

Cleanse that which is unclean,
water that which is dry,
heal that which is wounded.

Flecte quod est rigidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.

Bend that which is inflexible,
fire that which is chilled,
correct what goes astray.

a tuis fidelibus,
in te confidentibus,
sacrum septenarium.

Give to your faithful,
those who trust in you,
the sevenfold gifts.

Da virtutis meritum,
da salutis exitum,
da perenne gaudium,

Grant the reward of virtue,
grant the deliverence of salvation,
grant eternal joy.

15 May 2018

Columban Fr Thomas Kilkenny RIP

Fr Thomas Kilkenny
(23 July 1922 - 7 May 2018)

Fr Thomas Kilkenny was born in Lecarrow, Carrowbehy, Castlerea, County Roscommon, Ireland, on 23 July 1922. He was educated at Gorthaganny National School, County Roscommon, and Summerhill College, Sligo. He came to St Columban's, Dalgan Park, in September 1940 and was ordained priest in December 1946.

Castlerea, County Roscommon [Wikipedia]

Father Tom was assigned to Japan in 1947 and apart from his vacations and a year or so working in Mindanao, Philippines, in the 1950s, he spent the next fifty-five years working there in a variety of pastoral assignments. His first assignment was to Oiso. This was followed by stints in Toshima, Tokyo, and a longer period in Katase, Kanagawa.

Christ the King Church, Choshi [Source]

Then he spent time in two Chiba parishes, in Choshi and then in Tateyama. In Kumamoto he taught in the Marist High School and then worked for eight years in Tamana. After that there were assignments in Kamugawa, Chiba, and Hakone, Kanagawa.

Hakone Tozan Railway [Wikipedia]

His last five years in Japan were spent in Tokyo, and after that, in 2003, he returned to Ireland where he lived in Cloontrasna, Castlerea, County Roscommon, not far from his birthplace. Father Tom valued his independence and reluctantly agreed to move to the Dalgan Nursing Home in December 2015 when he could no longer care adequately for his own needs.

Father Tom was a quiet, private person, a conscientious pastor who spoke excellent Japanese, and dedicated himself to the people in his many assignments. He chose to be buried close to his family in Gorthaganny Cemetery, Castlerea, County Roscommon.

May he rest in peace. 

In the last couple of years of his life Father Tom would often tell Fr Bernard Mulkerins about a blacksmith's forge that he loved to visit in his childhood days. He also loved poetry. The video above begins with the opening lines of The Village Blacksmith by Longfellow. The forge is only about an hour's drive from where Father Tom grew up.

10 May 2018

'You will be my witnesses . . .' Sunday Reflections, The Ascension of the Lord, Year B

The Ascension of Christ, Rembrandt [Web Gallery of Art]

The Ascension of the Lord, Year  B

The Solemnity of the Ascension is celebrated on Ascension Thursday in England and Wales, in Scotland and in parts of the USA.  In these regions the Ascenson is a holy day of obligation. In other countries, including Australia, Ireland, Philippines and parts of the USA, the solemnity is observed on the Sunday after Ascension Thursday.

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel Mark 16:15-20 (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition)

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.’
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B

These readings are used in countries/jurisdictions that observe the solemnity on Ascension Thursday.

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

The Ascension, Theophanes the Cretan [Web Gallery of Art]

Fr Giuseppe Raviolo SJ (1923 - 1998) was a Pope St John XXIII-like figure, physically and spiritually, from Italy who spent most of his priestly life in Mindanao, Philippines, where I came to know him. He was the first rector of St John Vianney Major Seminary in Cagayan de Oro City. But he also spent nine years in Vietnam and was rector of the major seminary in Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, during the Vietnam War. He once told me an extraordinary story from that period.

The North Vietnamese Army was advancing on Saigon. The soldiers were divided into groups of three. The standing order was that if one tried to surrender the other two were to shoot him. One particular group found themselves surrounded by American soldiers and one of them surrendered. The other two did not shoot their companion and were captured along with him. Later they asked their companion why he had taken such a risk. He answered, I knew you were Christians and that you would not shoot me. The two were in fact Catholics and had discussed the matter and had decided that, as Christians, they could not shoot their companion if that particular situation arose.

These were soldiers in the army of a Communist country, an army without any chaplains, and their companion, who was not a Christian, took it for granted that they would not take his life because he knew that they were Christians.

In the First Reading today, the opening verses of the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus says to his disciples, You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Those two Catholic soldiers in the North Vietnamese  army were powerful witnesses of Jesus to their companion. They chose to live their faith in Jesus.

In the Republic of Ireland citizens will be voting on 25 May on whether to retain a provision in the Constitution that protects both the life of an unborn child and that of its mother or to replace it with a provision that will allow the parliament to legislate for abortion. The current government has stated that if the Constitution is changed they will introduce legislation that would allow abortion up to twelve weeks for no reason whatever.

Please pray that we in Ireland will have the same respect for human life that the two soldiers in Vietnam had and that we will exercise our responsibility as citizens by being witnesses of Jesus not only in Ireland but to the ends of the earth.

St Domitilla with Sts Nereus and Achilleus
Pomarancio [Web Gallery of Art]

Sts Nereus and Achilleus, whose feast is observed on 12 May, were Roman soldiers who were martyred for being Christians.

Entrance Antiphon  Acts 1:11  Antiphona ad introitum

Men of Galilee, why gaze in wonder at the heavens?
Viri Galilaei, quid admiramini aspicientes in caelum?
This Jesus whom you saw ascending into heaven
Quemadmodum vidisti eum ascendentem in caelum,
will return as you saw him go, alleluia.
ita veniet, alleluia.

Palestrina's setting uses a slightly different Latin translation along with a verse that is not in the Entrance Antiphon in the current Roman Missal:

Viri Galilaei, quid statis aspicientes in coelum? Hic Jesus, qui assumptus est a vobis in coelum, sic veniet, quemadmodum vidistis eum euntem in coelum. Alleluia. Ascendit Deus in jubilatione, et Dominus in voce tubae. Alleluia. Dominus in coelo paravit sedem suam. Alleluia.