Up Front and Personal

Msgr. Quinn’s Love For the Priesthood

by Msgr. Paul Jervis

The ordination of priests and bishops along with the celebration of their anniversaries at this time in the Brooklyn Diocese is an experience of profound joy.  The joy was no less intense for Bernard John Quinn, a young man of 24 years, who was ordained a priest with 14 of his classmates from St. John’s Seminary, in the towering, gothic and majestic church of St. John the Baptist, in Brooklyn, on June 1, 1912.  The centenary of Father Quinn’s ordination was celebrated at a Mass in St. Peter Claver Church, Bedford-Stuyvesant, on June 1.
Bernard Quinn’s ordination was a climactic release of unrestrained joy when he felt that his life’s friendship with Jesus was forever sealed in an indissoluble bond.  Almost to the exclusion of everything occurring at the beautiful, impressive ordination Mass, Father Quinn was totally absorbed only with Jesus, who became present to him in the appearance and words of Bishop Charles McDonnell, the ordaining prelate.
The happiness which overtook Quinn on his ordination day was not a momentary occurrence which subsided and dissipated with the passage of time.  On the contrary, despite the many trials and agonizing difficulties from his priestly ministry, Quinn was always happy to serve Jesus, his friend, by embracing his priestly tasks with undimmed zeal, even though his first assignment at St. Brigid’s Church in Westbury, L.I., and subsequent assignments at Corpus Christi Church, Mineola and St. Gregory’s Church, Brooklyn, were all relatively short.
So disposed was Father Quinn to the service of his Lord, in friendship of him, that when the Holy Spirit had intimated to him that Jesus was calling him to minister to the least of his brethren among the black people of the Brooklyn Diocese, Father Quinn acquiesced unhesitatingly and established St. Peter Claver Church, now in its 90th year.
Afterwards, he founded the Little Flower Children Services and St. Benedict the Moor Church for blacks in Jamaica, Queens.
Father Quinn, who reluctantly accepted the monsignorial title, loved his black brethren with the same passion through which he loved Jesus.  In like manner, priests must love whatever group of people that is entrusted to their pastoral care, with the same love that they should have for Jesus, who first called them to follow him as his friends (John 15:14-16).
The relevancy of Father Bernard J. Quinn’s canonization is greatest for the Church now, than at any other period of time.  He has bequeathed to us a legacy of priestly love: “Long years from now, hand down to your children this message from a heart that is on fire with love for you.”
On the centenary of Father Bernard J. Quinn’s ordination, Ad Multous Annos, to his canonization cause.

Msgr. Jervis is the pastor of St. Martin de Porres parish in Bedford-Stuyvesant, one of whose worship sites is St. Peter Claver Church.