Thursday, December 3, 2009

Requiem in Pacem - Father Joseph McGill, SJ

I was on my way to noon Mass when my cell phone rang, it was from the Lady of the Oaks Spirituality Center in Grand Coteau. My spiritual mentor had passed away yesterday. Last March I had mentioned to my son that I was looking to go in a different direction in my spiritual journey and could he mention somebody I could meet with. He gave me a couple of names and I called them and settled on Father McGill a retired Jesuit. From the very outset I liked Father McGill, he was nearly 80 years old and had a wonderful lifetime of experiences to fall back on. He was a marvelous listener, always attuned to any specific spiritual nuance that we could further explore. He told me that my spiritual life was always about how I felt, always personal, never theoretical or on an intellectual plane only. Many times I would write an entry in this blog as a result of our long get togethers. Over the months that I visited and often more than two hours at a time, we discussed many of the things I held dear to my heart, and my love for Christ and a deep desire to do more. I recall one time when I was off topic, he was getting frustrated that we were not discussing anything that was relative to my faith journey and it was not a fun time. In fact it took us a great deal of the time to finally get on track. When we finished I was thinking that perhaps he would not want to continue meeting with me, but he cheerfully asked me when we would meet again. I enjoyed meeting with him that I could not go two weeks without seeing him, we discussed family life, Scripture passages, life history, the dark nights and joys of being a servant of God. He was a remarkable man whose mother brought him to the Church as an infant and offered his life to God. He had served the Jesuits in Sri Lanka and on the East African coast in the 1950's and before I was even born. He was a diabetic and spent some time in New Orleans last summer, because of reoccurring dizzy spells. We missed a few weeks and I was delighted to hear when he got back to Grand Coteau. I recall discussing the parable from Luke's gospel Chapter 14: 15-24 about the King's invitation to his banquet and the excuses given as to why each one could not attend. All I could think about after was "what is my excuse." Father McGill managed the library at the Spirituality Center, his room was filled with books and books. That's one reason why my son Caleb like him so much. I met with Father McGill the last and final time two weeks ago. We talked about how we are not really in control of our lives, he alluded to the fact that even with medication he could not control his blood sugar level, he was powerless to it. It was through our loving trust in God, who is in control that we could have deep faith. I was to meet with him on Tuesday the 8th of December - the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, but instead I will be attending his funeral on Monday. I will miss dearly miss him and very saddened by his death. God Bless you Father McGill and make God greet you at Heavens gate. Requiem in Pacem.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your thoughts about Father Joseph McGill. He was such a special man of Christian faith. God was first with him so I believe his best is ahead of him.

Frances said...

When did Father McGill die? I saw him for 2 hours every week for a year and a half when he lived at the retreat center in Lake Dallas. They sent him back to LA because of his health problems. He was a wonderful spiritual director and an exceptional man. For some reason I have been thinking of him a lot recently. Now perhaps I know why. I am glad that you wrote about him. Frances McManemin

Keith Harmeyer said...

Fr. McGill was my teacher and friend at Jesuit High School in New Orleans, back in the 70s. A wonderful, spiritual man and a great influence on all of us who were blessed to know him.