Everyone who has been a part of my life for more than two minutes has heard my story of Father Maguire and the broken chapel window. But, in case you are new to my blog:
From 5th-8th grade I attended Sts Peter and Paul Catholic School in Oak Hill, WV. I found myself there after being beaten on a regular basis at Scarbro Elementary by one Ms Johnson (blog for another day). I came to Catholic school as an odd duck. At that time I was not Catholic (though I was baptized as such) and the traditions and pageantry fascinated me. But, at heart, I was a rotten kid from Carlisle who was outspoken, talkative and always up to mischief. Defiant but not criminally so. I refused to let boys push me around or feel superior, although I was a scrawny kid. On one sunny afternoon, a boy was trying to do just that. And because he could not talk as fast as I did, he could not prove his point as well as I did. He was frustrated. Words were exchanged. As he walked away, while I chuckled, he bent over and picked up a good-sized rock, turned around and hurled it at me. And, like his poor explanation of the topic at hand, he missed his target. It fell in the grass next to the sidewalk where I picked it up and reciprocated the gesture. He ducked (thank God, a criminal record is something I am glad to have avoided in my lifetime – and equally am surprised that I was successful in avoiding in my lifetime). The rock found an alternate target, the chapel window. With a life altering thunk, I realized that it had cracked the bottom corner of the window. As I turned to make my esc…um, I mean reassess my situation, I ran directly into Father Maguire in full-blown Irish temper. He quickly had me by my ear and marched me to the window. With his thick Irish accent he screamed: “You see this Michelle? It is a crack! You are a heathen! An outright heathen! And I am going to leave that crack there to remind you every day what a heathen you are!” And he did. That crack could not be seen from more than a couple of yards away, but I knew it was there. And, every time I passed that window (well into adulthood) I thought, “What a heathen…” Writing this with a smile, I still think it.
Father Maguire was my introduction to priests and to Catholicism. He was the priest who gave me my First Communion. He was the priest who administered my First Confession (though Father Moore would be my favorite for that sacrament). He was my introduction into all things Ireland – next came Father McSweeny and that made me think ALL priests had an Irish tilt. We had a Polka in the school cafeteria once (I was able to dance with George Romage and I was a giddy little girl over the whole thing). I can remember seeing Father leaning against the open trunk of one of the men in the parish and they were laughing a full, warm laugh and they were drinking out of a paper cup. Ma made mention that Irish Whisky is the best Whisky as she and Daddy laughed and got into the car. He was my first look at a world outside of our very small West Virginia community. Because I could listen to him through a whole church service and not feel as if I had taken a sleeping pill, I paid more attention. He is a large part of the reason I decided to receive First Communion (in 5th grade, tallest kid in the bunch as they were all 2nd graders as that was the normal age of First Communion). Those years, laced with green plaid uniforms, church on weekday mornings, and being sheltered from bad public school influences – I learned about Church, close knit Catholic communities and I found a sense of home in the pews on Sunday mornings. Because I received First Communion, my Parents decided to convert to Catholicism. Our family was altered in a positive manner and my formative years were better for it. I am truly thankful that Father Maguire was part of the forming party, for being that influence.
I found out over the Thanksgiving holiday that Father Maguire had passed away. So close to my Dad’s passing, it felt as if another piece of my childhood had been chipped off my heart. Tonight I will take a shot of Jameson and I will remember the priest who called it as he saw it. Yes Father, I was(am) a heathen. Rest easy, good soul. Tell my Parents “hi” for me.
Rev. Seamus J. Maguire
Rev. Seamus James Maguire died Nov. 17, 2016, at Good Shepherd Nursing Home in Wheeling at the age of 91.
Throughout his priesthood, Father Maguire was dedicated to the ministry of missions all over the world and to the people they served. He was also a beloved pastor of a number of parishes in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston across West Virginia, and is fondly remembered by the faithful.
Father Maguire was born in Dublin, Ireland, Oct. 10, 1925, to the late James and Elizabeth (Moore) Maguire. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his brother, Rev. Aidan Maguire. He is survived by his sister, Mrs. Bernadette Mary “Bernie” (Hugh) Savage of England. He is also survived by a niece, Mrs. Hilery Turner, of England and a nephew, Mr. Vincent Savage of Holly Springs, N.C, and many other nieces and nephews.
Father Maguire completed his preparatory studies for the priesthood at St. Patrick College in Thurles, Ireland, in 1953. He was ordained a member of the Pallottine Fathers by Archbishop Jeremiah Kinane at St. Patrick Cathedral in Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland, June 14, 1953. Following his ordination, Father Maguire worked in the mission of East Africa from 1953 to 1963. He then worked on mission appeals throughout the U.S.
In 1965, Father Maguire came to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and served at Sacred Heart Parish in Powhatan, W.Va. He was incardinated into the diocese in January 1976 by Bishop Joseph H. Hodges. After his 11 years as pastor of Sacred Heart, he was assigned to Scarbro, now Oak Hill, W.Va., from 1976 to 1987, where he served two terms as dean of the Beckley Deanery. He also served as pastor of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Beckley, W.Va., from 1987 to 1990. He was then appointed to St. Thomas Parish in Gassaway, W.Va., from whence he retired in 1994 to work on missions in Trinidad for 12 years. He then went on to reside at the Welty Apartments in Wheeling.
The wake will be Tuesday, Nov. 22, at the chapel at Good Shepherd Nursing Home, where Msgr. Anthony Cincinnati, S.T.D., V.E., will receive the body at 4 p.m. Visitation will be at the chapel from 4-7 p.m. and a Wake Service will be at 7 p.m. in the chapel. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 10 a.m. at the chapel at Good Shepherd.
Burial will be at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Wheeling.
Categories: Personal History / My Own Words