Sunday, September 22, 2013


Father Joe Cavanagh was a Jesuit missionary in Micronesia, who recently passed away.

Like many Jesuits in Micronesia, he would spend a few days at our Capuchin Friary on Guam when going to or from the States.  I found him to be an easy-going, relaxed and pleasant man.

During one of his Guam visits, when I was a brother in simple vows, I needed to go to confession.  I had been going regularly to the same Capuchin, and, rightly or wrongly, I thought the friar could use a break from me!

So I knocked on Fr Joe's door.  And he heard my confession.

His first words to me were, "What do you want to do?"

I was taken aback by those words.  No confessor had ever said those words to me.

In hindsight, I can see how good an approach he had taken.  He had taken the focus off my guilt, and put the focus on the future that lay in my hands, or at least a great deal of it.

I was guilty of sin, I knew it, I was contrite, God forgave me.

But Fr Joe put in front of my face the next, and perhaps even more important question : what was I going to do about it now?

His words gave me hope and direction.  Despite my sinfulness, I still had a future ahead of me and it was up to me, to either forge ahead and give it another go, or drown in self-doubt and wither away.

So I told him, "I want to stay in the Order."

And he said, "OK.  Do it."

And I've stayed.  28 years I've stayed.

Thanks Father Joe Cav, as we all called him.   As my Irish relatives say of their dead, "May God be good to you."

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