Monday, August 04, 2008

Once in a Lifetime

There are those events that happen once in a lifetime. For me, some of those days include:

My wedding day

Brian's birth

Sean's birth

Colin's birth

and now, meeting Bishop John Magee.
While up in Northern VA to help my friend/cousin Daniella & David with their new baby girl, I got to attend Mass at Holy Trinity. Daniella & David had never been to this church, but thought it would be nice to check it out with me up there. We arrived a couple minutes late (new baby syndrome!) and figured out there was a special guest celebrant, but had no idea who he was. When it came time for the homily, this guest celebrant gave the homily. It was a good homily, talking about how the Lord always wants us to come to him, come back to him. I am the Lord and you are my people. I thought this was particularly appropriate since my friends/cousins are trying to come back to the Church. Then after this appropriate homily, the bishop kept talking. He began speaking on the 3 previous popes - Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II. The bishop is the only man to have served under 3 popes. He gave us a history lesson on these three extraordinary men whom he served under. It was long, but it was fascinating to get an inside and personal look at 3 of the men who have sat on the Chair of Peter.

After Mass, we made sure to exit through the center doors so that we could meet "Bishop John". The bishop gave my little cousin Rachel a special blessing on her 1 month birthday. Then I got to shake his hand, and kiss his ring - a ring that Pope John Paul II gave to him.

After getting home last night, I Googled "Irish bishop who served 3 popes" and learned the name of the man who had presided over our Mass - Bishop John Magee. He began his vocation as a missionary priest in Africa. He ended up being sent to Rome and became the personal secretary to Pope Paul VI. After the pope's death, he was cleaning out the study of Pope Paul VI's personal effects when Pope John Paul I entered the room looking for coffee. A friendship was struck up and Bishop Magee stayed on to serve Pope John Paul I. After his death, Pope John Paul II came up to Bishop Magee (who was still a monsignor at the time), hugged him, and told him - You will stay with me!

While not quite as monumental as getting married or giving birth, meeting Bishop John Magee was still an amazing moment in my life as a Catholic.

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