Friday, July 25, 2008
At the back of my husband's neck, there is a scar he got from being thrown off a wooden raft on the Tippecanoe River in Indiana as a young boy.
The culprit who had thrown the young boy from the wooden raft? A young seminarian named Bill McManus, who was visiting the Riordan cottage in Indiana with his close friend, my husband's older brother, Tom Riordan.
Some sixty years later, I was sitting in a crowded church in a northern suburb of Chicago as that young seminarian was being laid to rest. Over fifty U.S. Catholic bishops were in attendance, as was the mayor of the city of Chicago. As much as funerals can be, it was a glorious occasion, white flowers everywhere, celestial choirs, and I'm sure, the deceased himself very much present. As would be typical for the impish Bill McManus, but not for a priest's funeral, a collection was taken--to support his favorite personal cause, helping young single mothers. Bishops from Alaska to Florida were asked to empty their pockets, generously, at what was otherwise a solemn occasion.
I'll never forget the first time I met Bill McManus, at a hotel in La Crosse, Wisconsin, while attending a jubilee celebration for then La Crosse Bishop John J. Paul. After joining him and Bishop Timothy Lyne of Chicago for dinner and conversation, he paid me the highest compliment I've ever received as a married woman.
"Kathy," he said, "meeting you makes me wish the Pope would change his mind about retired Catholic bishops being able to be married."
It was high praise indeed from someone who had chosen to give his life in the service of God and his fellow man.
Bishop William E. McManus.
Bishop William E. McManus went on to graduate from seminary and was ordained a priest, later to become Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago and Bishop of South Bend, Indiana, a position he held from 1976 to 1985. A close friend of well known sociologist and author Father Andrew Greeley, together they authored a study on Catholic giving.