Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Fr. John Guiney...Rebel with a clue

Today we buried a true servant...

Fr. John Guiney died this past week after a steady decline in health over the past year.
Born a stubborn Irishman, he died the same way. He was ordained in 1961 and spent the next 20 years working in a leper colony in Liberia. He also helped farmers to form co-ops to help stabilize the local rubber, coffee and cocoa industry. In the 1980's with political unrest and some health issues he was transferred back to the America but I'm sure he left kicking and muttering.
Kim met him around 24 years ago and was drawn to his servant heart and his complete love for children as evident of his knack for searching for Evan after church to always play and tease a bit with him.
    Here's where Doug enters the picture. As Kim was going through her divorce, a few well meaning Church folks questioned Kim's future relationship with the Church especially now being involved with of all things, dun dun dun...a Protestant.
She was fearful of being denied communion....until she talked to Fr. John.
Here's a very devout man frustrated by the Church's ability to turn on its own. He told her when the rubber hit the road for her to come to him and he will always give her communion. He told her "Kimmy, How do I know that your relationship with Jesus isn't better than mine?" That made my ears perk up. Just who is the rebel? This Priest who like to live by the motto for preaching...
"Be blunt, be brief, be gone..." A man who said "I'd rather have an irreverent doer than a pious non doer". Kim worked with him in taking care of an invalid woman who was the wife of a childhood friend. Kim saw all levels of humanity from this man for the old woman could push every button he had. Once he pulled Kim into the living room by the arm yelling "I'VE GOT KIM AS A WITNESS" referring to the fact he wasn't going to help her anymore because she was so, shall we say, "difficult". He never followed through. Kim and Fr. John had many talks sitting in the garage of this woman's home and his respect for the Catholic Church and his ability to side step a few rules to help people gave Kim so much strength that I hold this man in the highest regard I can. He would then ask about me and tell Kim to tell me that he's sorry that I have to deal with her (Kim), knowing all along that I was the trouble maker. I remember stories of people telling on him to the Bishop because he wouldn't soft sell anything, no matter how delicate the subject and if he didn't see you getting your hands dirty, you'd hear about it. He was also more about meeting you where you were in your faith rather than making sure you conformed to where others thought you should be...I liked this guy.

   Kim went to his bedside last week and saw him in a contorted position and he just told her to pray for him...pray for him.

The Church was full, standing room only, "more packed than Christmas" as Kim said.
Many tears and many laughs.

A packed house to send off "one of the good guys"