Our servants and shepherdsBy: Bishop James V. Johnston
“The greatest among you will be the one who serves the rest.” —Mt 23:11
Deacon Bill McNamee
On Wed., Nov. 23, our diocesan family said goodbye to Deacon Bill McNamee, as many joined Deacon Bill’s wife, Mary Jane, and their children at his funeral Mass in Immaculate Conception Church, Springfield. The funeral Mass was the fitting culmination of the final leg of Deacon Bill’s journey. He was diagnosed in late April with an aggressive form of brain cancer and given only four to six months to live. After trying the latest treatments in hope of a cure, Bill and his family realized the truth and prepared for his death as Christians do: with faith, hope, and love.
I make special mention of Deacon Bill because he was a friend and he served on my staff, as well as that of Bp. John Leibrecht’s before me, as the Director of the Permanent Diaconate for the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. Deacon Bill arrived as a permanent deacon from St. Louis when he and his family moved to Springfield in the mid-1980s. This was at a time when the permanent diaconate, recently restored after the Second Vatican Council, was relatively unknown in our diocese, and so he did not exercise this ministry until years later.
Deacon Bill loved his vocation: his first vocation as a husband and father, and then his next vocation as a deacon. Both vocations were a response to a call from our Lord to serve others.
It was fitting that there were so many priests, deacons, and deacon candidates in attendance at his funeral Mass. Bill’s love for Christ and the Church, his love for people and vocation, for his family, and our deacons and their families was a gift. We will continue to benefit from Deacon Bill’s service to the Church for many years because of his life and ministry.
‘Good Leaders, Good Shepherds’
I ask you to join me in praying for our priests, as many of them embarked this week on a two-year program of prayer, study, formation, and friendship known as “Good Leaders, Good Shepherds.” This program is facilitated by the Catholic Leadership Institute, and has already been adopted by 64 other diocesan presbyterates across the US.
The program is based on Scripture, the wisdom of the Church’s teaching, as well as the wisdom of good shepherds, especially The Good Shepherd, and seeks to develop and form priests more deeply in their role as shepherds and leaders.
I am excited for them and for all of the parish communities they serve. I know that among their main motivations to take part in this endeavor, is a desire to love, serve, and lead all people, as best they can, according to the mind and heart of Jesus. Thank you for supporting them by your encouragement and prayer as they allow God to further shape their priestly hearts.
Bp. Johnston’s prayer intentions for December are:
For the security and well-being of Christians in the Middle East; especially in Egypt, Iraq, and the region around the Holy Land.
For families that are separated from one another.