(posted at the request of parishioners)
FR. CHARLES’S PARTING WORDS
read by Joe Mazzarella, Parishioner
Fr. Charles Gallagher has written this homily. He asked me to read it at this Funeral Mass. Please listen as he speaks to you.
Your Eminence, bishops, priests, sisters, relatives and friends, parishioners of St. Cletus and all the other parishes in which I served, thank you for coming. I appreciate your presence at my final liturgy. I thank you for this kindness and all the kindnesses that you have shown me in my 68 years and 49 days I have been a priest.
As you entered church this morning, you received a program for this Mass. But it is more than a program. In it are some things I have written that highlight ideas and thoughts that were important to me in my life as I went about doing the things of the priesthood. Now you know what a priest should be. And if someone were to ask you if Father Gallagher was a good priest, I hope you would not disagree with the answer I give to that question. I believe I was a good priest. I worked hard in every parish I served. I believe I was accepted as a good priest by most of the parishioners. But that is no great accomplishment, because Catholic people are ready to accept any priest. That is a built-in given.
In the Army, I saw that the Catholic Chaplain had a plus that chaplains of other denominations did not. A Protestant Chaplain said to me, “You Romans have it made. You don’t have to prove yourselves. Your people are behind you even before they know what you are like.” That was a carryover from civilian life.
Whenever I came to a new assignment, to each of the six parishes in which I served, my prayer and hope was that I would not get in the way of people as they tried to love and serve God. I tried not to be an obstacle on their road to heaven.
I don’t think my life was above reproach. I had all the weaknesses of other men and other priests. I must have offended parishioners, even scandalized them, hurt them, caused them grief. For any of that, I ask forgiveness. And I thank you for forgiving me.
I thank my priest classmates for being “a band of brothers” to me. Their friendship kept me going on the straight and narrow.
I thank my family who have always been in my corner. I regret and am sorry for any neglect of a brother’s closeness and an uncle’s duties. They understood that and I thank them.
Well, this had better be enough. One of my virtues was a spirited Mass with a short homily. Now I want you to know that I never left anything out of my Masses. Honestly I didn’t. I tried to make them reverent and not lengthy. And that is what I want this last Mass to be.
God bless and keep you.
I will see you again.
Father Charles Gallagher