Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fr. Richard A. McGarrity, S.J.

Yesterday I participated in the funeral of a member of my community, Fr. Richard A. McGarrity. He was 78 years old and had been battling cancer for a couple years. Over the last few months it was clear to all of us--the 50 or so members of the Marquette University Jesuit Community--that his battle would soon be over.

Fr. McGarrity was a fighter. Whether it was competing in a tennis match or battling the weeds at our community's villa in the Kettle Moraine area of Wisconsin, Dick fought hard. He fought not only against the physical foe of cancer but the spiritual foe of despondency. While he lost the physical battle, he won the spiritual one. Clearly in pain as he moved from side to side, unable to stand still as he concelebrated Mass, he never gave in to negativity and despair.

I don't know if he prayed the Morning Offering or "offered up" his suffering. I regret now not asking him about that. I suspect he did, though. He was always supportive of me and the Apostleship of Prayer. As a member of the Wisconsin Province's "Jesuit Partnership," the development staff of my province, he periodically included our monthly leaflets in his "thank you" cards to benefactors. I can't help thinking that he must have had a daily habit of offering himself, of surrendering himself to God and His will, and that this prepared him well for his final surrender on October 26.

At his funeral, during the Preparation of the Gifts, we sang a song by Daniel L. Schutte based on the "Suscipe" or offering prayer of St. Ignatius. Its haunting melody and words were the perfect tribute to a man who embodied the Christian call to "offer it up." Here are those words:

"These Alone Are Enough"

Take my heart, O Lord, take my hopes and dreams.
Take my mind with all its plans and schemes.

Refrain: Give me nothing more than your love and grace.
These alone, O God, are enough for me.

Take my thoughts, O Lord, and my memory.
Take my tears, my joys, my liberty.

I surrender, Lord, all I have and hold.
I return to you your gifts untold.

When the darkness falls on my final days,
take the very breath that sang your praise.


  1. My condolences on the loss of your friend, Father. Thank you for including the Suspice Lyrics. It is such a beautiful song, such meaningful, but difficult to live by, words.

  2. thanks for your words, father. the song you chose described Dick's commitment to the Jesuit order and to his own spirituality perfectly. Due to his commitment and due to geography I saw my uncle only a handful of times over the last 20 years- it was always a goal to time my homecoming visits with his.
    I know he enjoyed catching up with family and friends, and those people savored the time with him. Dick had a comfortable flair about him that captivated all in his presence.
    The last time I saw dick was at a barbeque at my sister's house. I spent the afternoon sitting with Dick on the deck, enjoying his company, his opinions, and his pipe smoke infused wit.
    I am happy that he was able to meet my wife on our last visit, and sad that he will not be there to meet our son during our next visit.
    He is a great man who will be missed and remembered, and praised as an icon of faith.
    Tim Brenan

  3. Fr. McGarrity was one of the finest priests I have ever known. He was our chaplain for ROTC and I was in the AOH with him. Réquiem ætérnam dona ei Dómine; et lux perpétua lúceat ei. Requiéscat in pace. Amen

    MJ McGrath
    MU '98