From the Bishop



As we celebrate Father’s Day, we have once again a civil or “secular” summer holiday that has both faith, religious and human and family aspects. My brothers and I were recently speaking about our Dad, and the fact that late summer also brings around the remembrance of Dad’s birthday on Aug. 25.


I have spoken a lot about Dad over the years and am grateful to share some of these memories once again.

My father had a lot of funny expressions that we still remember: “Use your head for something besides at hat rack”; “You people” referring to us his children, especially in the evening: “Can’t get you people to bed at night and can’t get you people up in the morning!” And on a more serious note, speaking with Mom one time when I was at home visiting with both of them, Mom said, referring to their health and aging, “Bill you know we are not in good shape,” and his response was, “Mother, just be glad you have another day!”

My father became Catholic about the time that he and Mom married, partly because I believe my grandparents (Mom’s parents) and their faith and love influenced him, and most of all is love for Mom. He also, for a time after World War II, attended the Jesuit Rockhurst College in Kansas City, Missouri.

Dad’s life was not easy by any stretch of the imagination. He was born in 1925 in Dallas, Texas at Parkland Hospital. He was one of four children. His father abandoned them during Depression times when he and the others were very young, and our grandmother Vann raised them nearly alone, with the support of her brothers and sisters. She was a very strong and heroic woman, and I believe they lived in tenements, they were so poor. He attempted to enlist in the Navy the day after Pearl Harbor, but was too young, though when he reached the right age, he did so. He completed his basic training in San Diego!


From my Dad I learned, which I still take with me today, that you always do the right thing, which is never easy, but you persist. He taught us all this by his example. When he and Mom were married, he got a job at the post office, and worked long and hard hours, often rising early to take care of the mail at the local Parcel Post Station. Dad never complained, and from a human point of view, he had a lot to complain about, but he never did, and he certainly taught us all to instead, be grateful. He applied for this job at the post office not because he liked working for the Government, but because he knew that it was a job that would provide well for a family. Growing up in the family situation that he did, he also showed all of us that negative experiences do not have to repeat themselves in succeeding generations. Dad was proud of his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and his respect and love for our country was an important part of his life. He belonged to the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) organization, and we often participated in their events.

Most of all, my mother was the love of his life. They were married for 62 years. I saw this firsthand, when I would make trips back to Springfield to see him after I was assigned here. My mother was called to Eternal Life in June of the year (2012) that I was appointed here. Thus, with the understanding and support of the staff here, I made monthly trips back to Springfield to spend time with him, often just watching TV in the evening. He would often say, “You don’t have to come all of this way just to sit and watch TV with me.” My response was, “But Dad, didn’t you and Mom spend hours with us over the years?”

Those memories I treasure the most. They gave me a chance to spend the night at home with him and help him if needed. I especially remember my now deceased sister Mary Therese, whose care and support helped him to remain at home in his last years.

Dad missed Mom terribly in those two years before he too passed away. What I learned from him was the firsthand experience of the love of husband and wife in the Sacrament of Marriage.

I had the experience and blessing of being with him at the moment he passed into Eternal Life. My brothers and their families were all present. I said to him something like, “Dad, it’s OK you can go, Mom is waiting. Anchors Aweigh!” and the organist worked that Navy hymn into the final processional at Blessed Sacrament Church in Springfield, Illinois, where they had been married on April 15, 1950!