Father Eric Bergman on Jerry McGreevy RIP

In the January Newsletter of St. Thomas More Parish, Scranton, Fr. Eric Bergman writes:

Jerry McGreevyAt the close of my letter to you last month I reminded you that Jerry McGreevy had died in November and that his Requiem Mass was here on December 6. After I had written you, but before his funeral, a number of parishioners approached me about establishing a fund in memory of the man who, ten years ago this month, was so instrumental in the establishment of our community. I assented to these requests, but it was one of the petitioners, Anne Marie SuPrise, who came up with the idea of what the fund should benefit.

Knowing how much Jerry rejoiced in the many children of our parish, she recommended we use his memorial fund to create the green space we have planned for our property.

Therefore, we plan to use the Jerry McGreevy Memorial Fund to purchase 1622 Church Avenue, raze it, and then make a large grass playground at the corner of Theodore and Church, the southwest corner of our campus, utilizing also the adjacent lot we bought last

The Jerry McGreevy Memorial Playground will thus cost more than $20,000 to complete, but we have received in cash and pledges more than $8,800 of that already.

Many of you were at his funeral, at which we received many donations, but in the event you were not and you desire to contribute towards this memorial project, please send your gift to the Parish Office, careful to mark your intention in the memo line of your check. To those who have given, and to those who will, I thank you.

You might wonder why so many parishioners asked their pastor to set up this memorial fund and then gave ideas of how to establish an enduring monument to Jerry.

They did so because without God’s grace working through Jerry we may never have gotten off the ground. It was he who in late 2004 took a poll of all the members of the nascent St. Thomas More Society.

Without my knowledge he asked them how much they could pledge towards what he anticipated would be the Society’s expenses for the upcoming year. Concerned about the welfare of my family, and having resigned from my cure at our Episcopal church, I had decided to get a secular job, never imagining we had enough families to support me working full time. ´

Knowing I had a job interview the next day, Jerry came to me and said, “We have pledges for sixty percent of your salary. Will you stay in Scranton and work full time on this ministry? If you move to Philly and just come up to minister on weekends, we won’t last.” Together we took a leap of faith, my family and I stayed, and the Lord provided all we needed.

In the ensuing years Jerry would accompany me on many trips to promote our mission of reconciling our separated brethren to Holy Mother Church. Indeed, he even aided in planning the Pastoral Provision Pilgrimage to Rome in 2007, which helped prompt Pope
Emeritus Benedict XVI to issue two years later his apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus.

I didn’t tell you any of this at Jerry’s funeral, but I was not exaggerating when I did say we would not be where we are if not for him.

Yet for all his work on behalf of the Church, Jerry’s first vocation was as a father to his beloved Brian and Kimmy, as well as to all his ‘adopted’ children. At his confirmation he took the name Joseph, the patron of fathers, and it was his devotion to his family that led
him to move to Florida for the last sixteen months of his life. He simply couldn’t bear being apart from his actual grandchildren, so he was parted for a time from all his virtual grandchildren here in Pennsylvania. Rarely is a 71-year-old man mourned by so many kids in elementary school, but with Jerry’s death such an outpouring of grief was both expected and understandable. He loved his grandchildren and the children of our parish unreservedly, so much so that St. Thomas More Catholic Church inherited nothing from his estate. He had nothing to bequeath, having given everything away while he yet walked the earth.

Thank God with me that we were witnesses to such generosity, a generosity made possible by his great faith in the providence of God. His life reinforces my conviction, the more time we live here, that it was not happenstance that led us to make our permanent home at St. Joseph Church in Providence. Having Jerry’s name attached to our parish playground will be a fitting tribute to a man who took very seriously and tried hard to live out the ministry of St. Joseph.

We can, of course, still use Jerry’s help. Even as we pray for the repose of his soul, we might also plead his intercession. He will pray for us, I’m sure, as he had even from before our official inception on January 1, 2005.

These past ten years have been a joy to me, not least because I see so many of you, as did Jerry, pour yourselves out for the good of the Church Jesus founded. May your witness to the truth of God’s love establish ever more firmly this work He used us to start, and may
our wonderful and faith-filled parish be the means by which innumerable children of God come to know, love, and serve Him.

Happy New Year, and Happy Anniversary!

Father Eric L. Bergman

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