Catholic Action Report December 2011

I recently was fortunate to attend the Mass of Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest honoring the priestly life of Belfast born Rev. Malachy J. Higgiston, J.VDei.  Fr Malachy lived a life of joy for 88 years. Although I did not speak to Fr Malachy often I was always pleased when I saw the small man in size walking towards the Alter.  It was a treat just hear him speak.  The man small is size radiated such a huge light when he spoke.  As I and members of Division 16 sat I began to look around before the Mass had started.  Fr Malachy has recently retired from service and was living in Cherry Hill NJ.  The wake/Mass was attended by Parishioners from St. Thomas More Church where he served as a weekend assistant since 1989.  There were several faces that I did not recognize.  There where families from Cherry Hill, Families that had known Fr Malachy since he served as a U.S. Army Chaplin for over 20 years.  At the Mass several Priests that have shared the calling of Priesthood with Fr Malachy celebrated the Mass.  I could go on and mention several stories that Fr Malachy shared with everyone he met (Don’t forget he is an Irishman) He always seemed to mention or speak of his Irish heritage.  He had attended our annual Fundraiser several times.

One year one of our members asked Fr Malachy to mention our event being held that afternoon.  Well Fr Malachy at the closing of the Mass spent several minutes selling our event an and, of course, had the faithful laughing and smiling as Mass came to a close.  His joy as Fr John Bambrick the former pastor of St Thomas and close friend, stated in his homily the next day at Mass of Christian Burial, that Fr Malachy’s not only spoke the Gospel but lived it, really lived it.  I believe that was what drew many of us to him, the same way the Gospels drew Fr Malachy to Christ.  As with many people that leave us we feel a great sadness but, as Fr John reminded us that Fr Malachy’s joy did not end as Mass came to close but, that is where the real joy came, was when he spoke as he shared a donut and coffee after Mass. Fr Malachy touched my life even though I had never shared a cup of coffee or a donut with him.  You only needed to hear him speak once and after that his smile was enough for you to leave Mass with a renewed feeling of hope and faith to carry you thought the week.  Isn’t it the simple and small thing we find the most joy?  After all wasn’t that Fr Malachy’s life message to us?

We are told many times that things happen for a reason and how the Holy Spirit leads us in the direction that God has planned for us.  That timing if we let Holy Spirit guide us gives us great gifts of joy.  I have many times thought that has been true as I have walked through life.  I felt a great need to attend both of the Masses for Fr Malachy I think felt that I needed to say thanks but there was something else.  I put it the back of my mind and really hadn’t thought about it.

I had purchased a book “Travelers along the way, The Men and Women Who Shaped my life” written by Fr Benedict Groeshel C.F.R. Fr Groeshel who has been a spiritual guide to me in several of his writing and talks is without doubt a shaper of mine that has taught me several things about myself.  As I read the introduction to the book I realized fate, no! The Holy Spirit and perhaps Fr Malachy’s passing lead me to open this book and begin reading.  “Our lives move from small, seemingly insignificant occasions, which we quickly forget, all the way up to events that burn themselves deeply into our memories. Sometimes we confront troubles and even catastrophes – things that alter us forever and seem to put an end to all that has come before for us.  Yet somehow or other we go on-even when that seems impossible.  We slowly incorporate even difficulties and catastrophes into the whole that we call our lives, permitting them to play their part in forming us into the people we are constantly becoming.”

My message to my brothers as we prepare for the Birth of Jesus Christ, is to let us look and reflect on the people that shape us, guide us, change us, help us, and love us.  The best way we can thank those that shape us is to pass on the little messages that leads us to Christ trough the Holy Spirit.  Fr Benedict shares his wisdom in closing, “As you consider your fellow travelers carefully, perhaps you begin to see something special in one or two of them. Perhaps you will find a hidden saint among them. There are many quiet saints; only a few have been chosen by God for fame, but many walk the road of life in the company of the Eternal Traveler, and they walk in our company as well.”

There are many quiet saints; only a few have been chosen by God for fame