Up Front and Personal

Msgr. Quinn: A Saint For Our Times

By Peter Damour

How often do we see the goodness in everyone? Many of us call ourselves Catholic-Christians but do not live a life according to God’s commandments. Many of us have been guilty of hurting others with our thoughts and actions. So often in our lives, we fail miserably in recognizing Jesus in each person. To be human is to be biased; however, it takes a true examination of conscience to acknowledge all peoples are created in God’s image and likeness. Upon recognizing that all of us make up God’s family comes the need to promote love.

“I love you, I am proud of every one of you, and I would willingly shed to the last drop of my life’s blood for the least among you.” These powerful words are given to us by Servant of God Msgr. Bernard John Quinn, who was a priest of this Diocese and is a candidate for canonization in our church.

Msgr. Quinn was a prime example of seeing the goodness in everyone. As a priest, he witnessed many local parishes not ministering to black Catholics, which caused him to have an examination of conscience. This examination of conscience led him to minister to the black Catholic community, ultimately establishing two churches that still stand today.

Msgr. Quinn’s examination of conscience served as the basis of his ministry and life. He established an orphanage that would serve young black youth.

When I think of saints, what comes to mind are the self-reflection moments and characteristics of courage, perseverance, and love. How often do we have the courage like Msgr. Quinn to stand up against injustices? Msgr. Quinn recognized the need to minister to black Catholics and went to Bishop Charles McDonnell. How often do we have the perseverance to fight obstacles that we encounter daily?

Imagine Msgr. Quinn’s brother priests and their thoughts about him serving this group of people. How often are we able to set aside our differences and promote love? Msgr. Bernard John Quinn is indeed, in my eyes, a saint of our times. A priest who lived a simple life and was a product of courage, perseverance, and love — a love that was so sacrificial, overwhelming, never-ending, and reckless. May Msgr. Quinn serve as an example for all of us, especially our parish priests in this Diocese of Brooklyn.

Damour is a member of the Diocesan Commission on Racism and Social Justice.