On Sunday, May 7, Bishop Patrick J. McGrath, our bishop emeritus died. Bishop P.J.’s sudden death has caught us all by surprise. While he fell about two weeks ago and broke a vertebra in his back, the surgery was successful, and he was recovering well. Unfortunately, he developed pneumonia in one lung, and it spread to his other lung in a matter of days as he was not responding to the antibiotics. There was nothing more the doctors could do for him, and he was put into hospice care. It was shocking for us all, but he accepted it gracefully.
Fortunately, I got to spend five hours with him on Saturday night until 1:00am in the morning and he was at peace in his final hours. When his nephew Patrick arrived from New York, his best friend and classmate from the seminary, Msgr. Dan, gave him the commendation of the dying, and I was honored to be there for that moment. Bishop P.J. was ready to go and meet the Lord. He was full of faith, grace, and humor to his last breath. He was a great bishop and faith-filled servant of the Lord. His funeral services commence on Wednesday and are listed on our website here
Bishop P.J. ordained me as a priest 23 years ago, I was one of two priests he ordained as his first year as Bishop of San Jose. In 2007, he appointed me one of his Vicar Generals and for 12+ years I worked alongside him at the Diocese while still being the pastor of Holy Spirit Parish. I was privileged to call him a close friend and mentor; I learnt many things from him, most of all how to be a better pastor and help others to fall in love with Jesus. I was still under his active mentorship, and I will miss him dearly.
He was loved by many and had a unique gift of enabling people to use their gifts for the good of the Church. He seemed to have endless energy and time for all who came to him for advice and counsel, especially his priests and religious. He had a particular affection for the religious women in our diocese as they served alongside him in service to the Church and rightly gave them due honor at every opportunity. He will be missed by all of us, and we are still coming to grips with our loss. Please keep him and all of us in your prayers.
Bishop P.J. had a strong love for the parents of the priests and would know our parents by name and warmly welcomed them whenever they visited our diocese. While he would encourage us all to visit our parents often, he had a particular love for all of our mothers. When he went to Ireland to visit his family, he would always take the time to visit my mother in my home even when I was not there. He loved his own mother, and he told me regularly, “Brendan, you will never regret spending time with your mother. So, visit her as often as you can!” And I did.
That seems particularly apt this weekend as we head into Mother’s Day. So, I say to all mothers, “Happy Mother’s Day. Thank you for loving us. We honor you today and wish you God’s blessings and love in return. May you know how much we love you back.” And to all the children, I repeat Bishop PJ’s words to you, “Visit your mother as often as you can. You will not regret spending time loving your mother.” Please invite your mothers to Church and come with them. We will have a card for all mothers and a meditation song at all Masses celebrating the gift of their love among us. I would like to share the “Ave Maria” performed here at St. Simon by Francesca LaRosa and John Angotti with Julian Brown (violin) and Samuel Cotta (cello). It is a beautiful recording from our Songs for the Soul ~ Hear God’s Voice concert and I hope you enjoy it. Happy Mother’s Day!
Finally, this weekend we celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation with over 60 of our 8th graders and we are delighted to give them many note cards of encouragement from our parishioners. Thank you for taking the time to write those notes. May God bless them with a strong faith that will carry them through all of life’s ups and downs. May they know that God will always love them no matter what goes on in their life. May we all be witnesses of faith to inspire to be active members of the community for the rest of their lives.