To Father McGonagle

A very dear friend of the family and the priest who converted my family to Catholicism died a week ago. Simply, “Father Mac” to those who loved him in Griffin, GA, he was remembered as being a scholar, a gentle voice, a friend when we needed one, and the man who waited all night by my hospital bed the night I lost my child.

I could not write about something to honor dear Mac, but my father did. Enjoy it, because his muse is much better than mine.

Father Mac

(Dedicated to Father James McGonagle, of Sacred Heart Church, Griffin, GA)

by John Hendricks, Ph.D.

Attending Mass one Sunday

A homily made me sway

To give Confession, and when complete,

The Priest bid me to have a seat.

(Hail, Mary…)

“I must pronounce something new-

Not playing words but something true.

How miserly with Him you plod-

Alas, my friend, you’re using God.’

“So much you say is what you want,

And let me be really blunt.

He wants far more than hearing sin

From those who play ‘Let’s pretend.’

“I’m not a Santa making a list,

And I’ve heard some who can’t resist

A child’s letter addressed ‘North Pole’

And asking more than saving soul.’

“Forgiveness seek for hurt words said,

Forgiveness for false tears you shed,

Forgiveness for that profane thought,

Forgiveness for lost fortunes sought!’

“In all of these that you confess,

My Penance now is nothing less-

Stop using Him and now in lieu,

Allow our God in using you.’

“So visit thieves that lie in cell,

Attend a stranger until he’s well,

Donate a tithe, ask no receipt,

Help the poor, show no conceit.’

“Succor a widow in project,

Counsel a child others neglect,

Minister those without the Word,

Give sight where the sight is blurred.’

“Attend the dying in nursing home,

Write Good News in every poem,

Become a light where there is dark.

Where no fire burns, strike a spark.’

“My Penance now is these and more.

Pray on knee ‘til knee is sore,

And know this Penance is always true:

Do not use God! Let God use you.”

(“Hail Mary…”)

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