Monday, July 24, 2006

The Beautiful Hands of a Priest

You know a priest is a giant among his people when a secular paper makes his legacy the editorial cartoon of the day.

So it was for Northeast Pennsylvania's Msgr Andrew McGowan, who died last week at 80. The funeral liturgy is taking place at this hour in Scranton's St Peter's Cathedral, and last night -- in the same hall where former Gov. Bob Casey had his lying in state -- a grateful community converged to pay tribute....

The story remains top news up the Blue Route.
For five hours they streamed by, a steady parade of familiar faces and complete strangers.

Alternating between her own two feet and a chair near the casket, Lee Rosica shook hand after hand. With each greeting inside the rotunda at Marywood University, Mrs. Rosica picked up new tidbits about her brother’s long-lasting reach.

An entire region grieves along with the loved ones of Monsignor Andrew J. McGowan, 80, who died last week at a Maryland hospital after a brief illness.

“It’s overwhelming,” Mrs. Rosica, of Clarence, N.Y., the monsignor’s only remaining sibling, said of the public support. “I met at least 100 people who said they had dinner with him every week. At least 20 said he was their mentor.
“When did he have time to do that?”
He had time to do it as he was actually ministering. But that's another story for another day.
Still going strong at 96 years old, James Tedesco slowly approached the casket and gently laid a hand on those of his longtime friend. Mr. Tedesco served on various boards and committees with Monsignor McGowan, including the Mercy Hospital board of directors. The pair dined together most Saturday nights with a small group of friends.

Despite his high-profile positions and penchant for the podium, Monsignor McGowan shunned the spotlight when it came to good works, both big and small, said Mr. Tedesco.

“He would never brag. You’d have to drag it out of him,” he said. “There was nothing I wouldn’t do for him. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for me.

“He’ll be missed.”
So it seems.

John Cole/Scranton Times-Tribune