Prayers & Laughter-Father George Retires
When I moved to Kingston last year, I missed many things about my hometown and top of my list; St. Francis de Sales Church. I grew up in a Catholic home and never missed mass. Since I moved here, I have been trying to connect with a new one but haven’t found one that feels like St. Francis. A big part of the gap is it doesn’t have Father George. Sadly, Father George Maloney is going to say his final mass at the end of December and then will retire after 52 years.
Father George has been a big part of my family’s life. Not everyone can say there mom is called “Mother Theresa”; but that is Father George’s nickname for my mom Lillian and my dad Ernie Ward has been an usher at the church since the 80’s.They will really miss Father George as will so many of the parishioners.
With his twinkling blue Irish eyes, he always has a smile, a joke, and a kind word for his congregation. He isn’t preachy and his banter with his Deacon Gordon Bryan, his choir and his servers always brings a smile to our faces. His sermons are engaging and you can always find a way to relate. He calls out birthdays, wedding anniversaries and his comedic timing can make the parish laugh and smile. He returned to his beloved congregation in 2005 and has remained the glowing light of our church.
He knows his parishioners, and with numbers dwindling in churches, St. Francis always seemed to stay on track. He’s a loving and kind man; I wish his replacement the best; but I don’t envy him. Father George is an icon in the church. He is a good listener, cares about his parish and he gets to know the families. He baptised my niece, performed the wedding ceremony for my older sister Lisa and her husband Paul, and has been involved in countless school masses and special ceremonies.
Even when situations change; he doesn’t judge; he guides and helps. Unfortunately I will not be in town for his final mass; but I will be in town this weekend and will be saying goodbye. I really feel I haven’t connected to any church in my new town because it doesn’t have the warmth of my church. I guess you can say, I was spoiled by Father George. He doesn’t have long drawn out sermons, but what he does say; has meaning and humour.
I wish Father George well in his retirement. I know he will be among people who love him at his new retirement home. I’m sure he will enjoy all the many visitors and new residents and will delight them with his wisdom and quick wit. As for my parents; they are saying goodbye to a mentor and friend. I’m sure many a tears will be shed when he hangs up his collar for the last time. Father George; you touched so many lives, including mine and my families. Even when situations are rough, faith is waning and belief is hard to find, your kind words can make the difference; or your gentle reminder that laughter and prayers really matter.
As this is the final edition for 2013, I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I also want to wish my parents Happy Anniversary. For those who are travelling through the holidays, safe travels. All the best!