Posted by: guinness222 | January 8, 2018

Thank You,…Father!!

Father Kevin Johnson passed away January 8, 2018

As an active member of the St. Rita Parish in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida for about six years now, my wife and I were both saddened by the passing of our Pastor, Father Kevin Johnson,…..but there is much more to it,….so read on.

My wife,Barbara, and I are both what are called “Cradle Catholics”, meaning we were born to Catholic Parents, christained, or baptized within weeks of being born, and were brought up to be Catholics. As a kid it could be frustrating, with getting up on everySunday morning to go to church, whether you really wanted to or not. Like good Catholic Children , our parents felt one of their most important obligations was to insure all their children grew up to be a “good Catholics”. Parochial School was a must for their children and their duty was to make it happen, regardless of the personal sacrifices it entailed. Whenever physically possible we went to parochial grammar schools, high schools, and even College if we could get into one of the few Catholic Colleges. A great deal of our “Extra-curricular” time was also spent in activities fostered within the confines of Catholicism, Boy Scouts for example had a “Catholic” award called the “Ad Altare Dei”, (which. I earned and received from Archbishop Richard Cushing when I was 13 years old at the Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston. (Several years later he was made a Cardinal.) , Both my wife and I, as well as parents and siblings, participated in “Drum & Bugle Corps” under the auspices of the “Catholic Youth Organization (CYO)”, which is where we met, went on to marry, have three children and are celebrating our fifty first year of marriage together.

Why do I tell you all of this? Very simply to make you aware of Fr. Kevins contribution to this area, and all of our lives, and assure you he has a seat right up there with Mother Teresa in heaven with the Lord! He didn’t found a great order of priests like the Jesuits, Benedictines, Dominicans or the like. He didn’t rise from a humble family to go on to become a bishop, cardinal, or Pope, but what he did do was to personify his Priesthood with the characteristics of Catholicism, and something each and everyone of us could, and should do every day. It makes you, everyone you meet, and everyone you come in contact with both like and respect you far more, and it costs you absolutely nothing!

What is it? SIMPLY SAY “THANK YOU!”, sincerely and with meaningfully, for everything in your life that happens. Not the mumbled “thanks”, or muffled “thank you”, or the nod of acceptance, but simply say “thank You” with emphasis on the “YOU”, and do it with a smile!

I used to think of Fr. Kevin as “Father Thank You”, that will be the memory etched forever in my mind . I serve at Mass on the Alter, and after the Alter Boys and Alter Girls  finish washing the Priests hands during Mass, Father “Thank You” would always tell them and smile as he did it. He said “Thank you” to every person ever bringing up the gifts at every Mass which I witnessed as well. When he first fell ill he was in a wheelchair for a while, and I was fortunate enough to have pushed him to the altar, up the ramp and around the altar as he celebrated mass, and regardless of his personal pain and trials he always, and I mean every time, said “Thank You!” to me, with a smile and a sincere way such that you knew it was as real as it gets. I’d see him after Mass in our Church function room, after daily Mass, he loved to just sit, have coffee and a Donut or two, and talk to “his lambs”, be they three, or 93.  Before Mass he would ask to be pushed over to any of the elderly parishioners to say hello and a word of comfort to them.

He was born without an evil, sarcastic, or cynical bone in his body, and he never met a man, woman or child, whom he did not love, and respect. During an average Mass, he probably said “Thank You” a half a dozen times, and always made everyone he came in contact with feel like a personal friend and special fried. I was so proud when he agreed to help my wife and I renew our wedding vows on our fiftieth anniversary at Mass, this past summer, and it felt like we were the only people there, despite a full church. He had that effect on everyone he ever met!

His family, growing up was a typical Irish Catholic family, (in the “old Days” it was the pinnacle of parental success for a parent when a Son became a priest, and a daughter became a Nurse, Both Father Kevin and his brother became Priests, and his sister a  Nurse.

I could go on, but I’d rather remember Father Kevin Johnson as “Father Thank You” and am going to try and say “Thank You” myself, to more folks, be it the receptionist in a Doctors  Office Lobby, a “Bagger” at the supermarket, of even a salesman, or aPolice Office handing back your Licence and registration after you were stopped for a petty light bulb or other infraction.

And by the way Father Kevin,….”Thank You” for spending time with all of us as well!

It’s working!!

January 8, 2018


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