BY RORY COONEY
DIRECTOR OF LITURGY AND MUSIC
As I’m writing these words, trying to put together some thoughts for an article I signed up to write weeks ago, I’m
overwhelmed with thoughts about Father Jack Dewes, who passed away this past weekend, and whose funeral we
are busy organizing. I’m thinking about the gospel of Mark which we’ve been hearing all year, and how on this final
Sunday of the year the lectionary switches to the trial of Jesus before John. While Mark’s Jesus keeps reminding the disciples, right to the end, that “whoever wants to be the greatest must serve the rest,” we end the year with John’s Jesus telling Pilate that “my kingdom is not like yours.” The very kingship of Christ is a kingship of service and love, not a relationship of master and servant, but between friends. That’s the Jack Dewes that I will remember. He sought out people who would serve the community in their ministries, and was a spirited cheerleader as we did so.
From the moment I made contact with Courtney Murtaugh from Saint Anne in the summer of 1993, service and love
were what I found to be the case in the parish. Not many of us from that group are still around, but I was a
beneficiary of the astonishing grace of Sister Lorraine Menheer’s ministry practically from the moment I set foot on
the parish grounds. It was not long after that that Jack turned his attention to building a church appropriately sized
and appointed for the people who would worship there in the parish’s second century. By the sheer force of his
personality and charisma, surrounded by capable and talented staff members and parishioners, Jack was able to
complete the construction of the church where we worship today in such modern beauty. Many since have made
substantial contributions as well, not the least of whom are Fr. Bernie and Margaret Buckstaff, to sustain financial
viability and infrastructure improvements over the last decade. The gem of a Vatican II church building we have,
was Jack’s vision. Many have since collaborated to make it even better.
As we prepare to bury Father Jack, celebrate Thanksgiving, and start Advent all in the same week, we can look back
over the last decades with gratitude and hope. Even with COVID still a reality to be dealt with for all of us, we can
celebrate our successes, learn from our failures, and become better disciples as we serve the reign of Christ here in
Barrington. Clearly, we’re not finished. Advent reminds us of that, and leads us through hope. While we are filled
up with gratitude for the good that has come our way, we’re also swimming in a sense of injustice and loss over all
that hasn’t come true, or that has been lost along the way, or refused, held back, or trampled.
We’re not finished. We’re still “on the way,” on the road, on a journey together with Jesus. We’re not what we want
to be, what we hope to be, either in ourselves or for one another. But time’s not up yet. Christ is still here. God who
has begun the great work in us of bringing health, safety, and joy to the world will see the project through to the
finish. Grateful for the year of grace to which we now say “farewell,” we greet a new year next week. Jeremiah will
again prophesy that God will “raise up for David a just shoot who shall do what is right and just in the land.” That
little blade of justice is every one of us. God is saving the world. We can dare to hope in a good future for everyone.
The thing is, we’re not an audience. We’re participants. Through baptism, Christ lives in us and through us. That’s
what Jack kept reminding us: “This people is the house of God.” Certainly, it is through no fault or effort of our own!
Christ has called us together in the Spirit to be the dwelling place of God, a meeting‐place of heaven and earth.
Because of Father Jack’s transmission of the gospel vision of Vatican II onto the parish and into the brick and mortar
and art of the church, we are continually called into community, into harmony, and into service every time we
gather to break bread. Let’s commit ourselves again to keeping that vision alive, and give thanks for one another, for our parish leaders, and for all of those who have gone before us, and this week, at least, for the life and ministry of
Father Jack Dewes.