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Monday, September 12, 2011

Tears for Br. Jude

The wake for Br. Jude tonight was exceptional only in that it is so rare we Maryknollers shed tears for our brothers. Besides coming so quickly and unexpectedly, Jude's death left a void in our community. There are few who can match his gentleness, optimism, hospitality, humor, and love for Maryknoll. When Fr. Frank McGourn got up to share some personal reflections, the several times he choked up and held back tears spoke as eloquently of the effect Jude had on his life than any wonderful words of tribute. The funeral is tomorrow at 11:00 a.m.

Yesterday was the communal memorial for 9/11. Although I wasn't there and heard it was great, it's heard to imagine it more moving than the one last Friday. About 60 people attended on Friday (roughly half Maryknollers and half employees) but everything (miraculously) came all together at literally the last moment.

We tolled the bells at 11:10 a.m. for four minutes and the Mass began at 11:15. Fr. Mike Duggan's homily struck just the right note of hope and remembrance. "This is my Song" (to the tune of Finlandia) is a favorite, as it blends authentic love of country with a prayer for God to bless all nations, whose people love them as much as we love ours.

After communion, as Ms.Lucille Naughton played "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" softly in the background, I read my reflection from the September 2011 MARYKNOLL magazine: The legacy of 9/11. At the end we all joined in the chorus: "Glory, glory, halleluia. His truth is marching on."

The long silence afterwards was both unintentional and totally appropriate. Given we had to throw this together in less than 24 hours, maybe this is a sign we need FEWER meetings and less planning.


  1. Joe, if a proud former Maryknoll Brother might comment on your "house" blog, I was blessed to be in the first group of Brothers-in-formation who had Bro. Jude Coniff as one of their "formators," along with Bro. John Beeching (and later Bro. Bob Butsch). Jude had just come back from the Philippines and confessed to us that he "really didn't know why he was there with us." It soon became evident that the main reason was to be a significant role model as the essential Maryknoll Brother: humble, deeply faithful, profoundly proud to be a Maryknoller, in love with the people to whom he ministered whether they were in a foreign land or at the Kitchawan house, always maintaining a sense of humor and lightness of heart. He knew what truly mattered in life. Although I ended up leaving the Society, I took everything Jude taught me as a person with me as a Christian and a Brother. I am eternally grateful to God for my brother Jude; may he rest in peace with his fellow saints!

    Mike Hovey, Coordinator, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, Archdiocese of Detroit

  2. Thanks, Mike, for your moving tribute. Everyone us always welcome to post a comment here. The in-house blog for Sociery members is a different post.