In Remembrance
AFFIRMING AN INCLUSIVE PRIESTHOOD, ROOTED IN A REFORMED AND RENEWED CHURCH

Leahy, William K.

Philadelphia, PA
January 2. 1999
Excerpts from Eulogy delivered by Anthony Massimini

Let us celebrate the life of Bill Leahy, who was a good man, a good friend and brother, a good father and loving grandfather, and a good priest of Jesus Christ. Let us celebrate him who was both an image of Christ, especially in his compassionate ministry to the poor and outcast, and an image of Job, to whom much was given, from whom much was taken away, and to whom much was restored. Job asked, Oh, would that my words were written down. Would that they were inscribed in a record. Today I want to recount and record Bill's life, as well as celebrate it.

Bill was a good man. We simply have to say that he was an outstanding example of the exceedingly good and fine young men who entered the seminary to honor and serve Christ as his ordained ministers. Bill, for being a good man, may you be blessed forever.

Bill was a good friend and brother. I put the two together because Bill put them together. To John, Maryanne and Edna, whom we call Mike, he was a beloved blood brother and friend. To the rest of us, he was friend and brother, always ready to serve us whenever we had a need. Bill, for being a good friend and brother, may you be blessed forever.

Bill was a good father and a loving grandfather. For those who don't know, about 25 years ago, Bill was asked to take a young, homeless boy into his home for a week or so. Bill came to adopt David as his own son, whom he loved with his whole heart. Through many very difficult circumstances, Bill always ran out of his house to pick David up, embrace him and give him a party of a new start in life. Bill, for being a good father and a loving grandfather, may you be blessed forever.

Bill was a good priest of Jesus Christ. After excelling academically at St. Charles, he was sent to study Theology in Rome. Then the council opened, and on the first day, Bill was in St. Peter's to hear the pope say that every day, he had to listen to persons who were not endowed with too much sense of discretion. In these modern times, John continued, these persons could see nothing but prevarication and ruin. Bill recognized that the pope was speaking about his advisors and about their fear of the modern world and modern studies--a fear that they had imposed upon the pope himself. But then, John went on to say that he disagreed with these prophets of gloom. Bill was exultant. The pope had changed. The Spirit had opened a window in Pope John's soul, just as the pope would open a window to the Spirit for the entire church. It was all right for Bill to teach what he was studying. It was all right to dream of the renewed church that John wanted to create. There was a new way to understand Scripture, a new way to understand the church, a new way to understand the world and the human person. It was all right to teach this new understanding.

Inspired by Pope John's remarks and filled with idealism, he saw the new church be born and he believed in it. With Vatican II, --he believed that the church is the people of God, who are, as a body, consecrated into a holy priesthood that does not conflict with the ordained priesthood. --he believed that the whole church cannot err in matters of belief when, from the bishops to the laity, it shows universal agreement in matters of faith and morals.

He served a term as President of the Federation of Christian Ministries, and he worked with his dear friend, Anthony Padovano, President of CORPUS, the organization working for the full restoration of the married priesthood in the Western church--a restoration that has already begun. He was active in Call To Action, the movement for renewal that includes nuns, priests and bishops, but which also includes members in one diocese who were excommunicated, simply for being members. More outcasts to identify with.

Throughout it all, reconciliation was always on his mind and in his heart. For a long time, he kept in close touch with Cardinal Krol, struggling mightily with him in the impossible challenge of achieving official reconciliation. Both men did all they could, but their worlds were too far apart. So Bill continued his own ministry. For him to have done otherwise would be for him to have compromised his integrity. He would not have achieved the humility, compassion, a deep spirituality of suffering, dear family and friends--these are the gifts that, in the end, God bestowed on Bill, just as in the end, God bestowed gifts upon Job. Bill, for being a good priest of Jesus Christ, may you be blessed forever.

You have finally found reconciliation I the loving arms of Christ. From there, I know that you are praying for us to heal the divisions that separate members of the one church from one another. You are praying for us to open the church to the fullness of truth and love. You are praying for us to find ever more compassion for the poor and outcast.

In your December newsletter, you prayed for us, "Happy Christmas and a Blessed New Year! May all the riches of Christ Incarnate, the Word made flesh, be yours each day and forever." Bill, now it's our turn to pray for you. May those same riches also be yours. May our friend and brother, priest and Savior, Jesus Christ, hold you close in his arms and give you peace. May he lead you into the universal community of love that was our deepest dream. And may he bless you, now and forever. Amen.

Given at the Church of the Annunciation BVM, Havertown, PA, January 6, 1999, by Anthony T. Massimini 2541 Haven Avenue Ocean City, NJ 08226-2434 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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