Friday, April 17, 2009

Msgr Thomas Morgan 1909-2009

A Blessed and Happy Easter to you all. The boys had a lovely Easter; photos of egg hunting will follow in the next few days. It bothers me greatly to write this post. Msgr. Thomas Morgan, the priest that married my maternal grandparents, who baptised two of my sisters and I, who buried my paternal grandparents, has passed away. He was 99 years old.

Msgr Morgan, or Pappy Morgan, as my Poppa Don called him was a truly holy man. He was born in Alexandria, Egypt as his father, an Irishman in British Army, was stationed in Egypt. He studied for the priesthood in Ireland and Portugal. He came to California in 1939. He served in parishes in the Central Valley and in the Central Coast. After starting three parishes (in Hanford, Cambria, and Greenfield), he came to Tres Pinos in 1969. He was our pastor for fifteen years. He retired in 1984, and lived in Hollister until about 2000, when he moved to a retirement home.

He was the quintessenital Irish priest. He was loving, he cared for his parishoners, he had a great sense of humor, and of course, loved a round of golf. When Poppa Don passed away, who came and visited my grandmother? Father Morgan. I remember watering Grandma's roses, and Father Morgan came driving into the yard. I saw the tears in Grandma's eyes, and I knew that I needed to keep watering. When my Dad woke up from having surgery on his knee 11 years ago, who was standing over him? Father Morgan. He said something to the effect of, "Patrick, how are you feeling?". Dad said that seeing Father Morgan made him think that something had gone terribly wrong. No, Father Morgan was making his rounds, and saw Dad's name on the board. Mind you, Father was 89, and still visiting his old parishoners in the hospital! It wasn't that he was bored in retirement, he loved being a priest, he loved his people, and we all loved him.

When Grandma Gen passed away in 1999, Father Morgan was one of the priests who said the funeral Mass. He preached the homily, and Sarah and I were the altar servers. Before Mass started, Sarah took a huge box of Kleenex and put it next to our chairs. We both needed it. Both Grandma and Father Morgan golfed. He jokingly said that Grandma was at the gates of heaven, asking if the Virgin Mary would like to play a round. He figured that Grandma would win, as the only birdie our Blessed Mother knew was the Holy Spirit.

I looked up to Father Morgan as a model priest and gentleman. When I was discerning a vocation to the priesthood, I decided that if I was called to be a priest, I wanted to be like Father Morgan. One Sunday evening during my senior year of high school, I was asked to serve Mass. I was in confirmation class, and it was our practice to have half of the class, go to evening Mass, and then finish class. When I was asked to serve, we were in a rush. The priest tossed me an alb, the long white vestment that servers wear. Priests wear it under the stole and chasuble. Fr. Green, the priest saying Mass that evening said, "Yeah, you're about Tom Morgan's size, it'll fit.". I thought it was awesome, a sign that maybe I was called to be a priest, serving Mass wearing one of one of my heroes' vestments.

I am rambling a bit. I was planning on taking the boys to meet Father Morgan at his 100th birthday party in August. We will all meet up one day, God willing, it will be a long, long time off.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine; et lux perpetua luceat ei.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon him.

2 comments:

jbonannord said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jbonannord said...

God must be lonely for Irish priests named Thomas. Our Irish pastor in Lodi, Msgr Thomas Hayes, was called home to God this week, too.