On Independence Day, Catholic prolifers gathered for the annual morning of prayer for Life and for America at the Marian Shrine in Stony Point, sponsored by the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants and the Rockland County Catholic Coalition.
The Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and the recitation of the Rosary was followed by Mass concelebrated by Father Brendan Gormley of St. Barnabas in the Bronx, Father Joseph Kuzhichalil of St. Margaret’s in Pearl River, and Father Nicholas Callahan, who is serving at St. Catherine’s in Blauvelt while on summer break from his studies of canon law in Rome.
In his homily, Father Brendan spoke of the importance of those most valuable things which do not belong solely to us and have been entrusted to us to hand down: the gifts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
These treasures must be defended, often at great cost. Father read the “Letter to Jackie,” a letter from Navy Lt. Cmdr. John Shay to his 5-year-old son during the early days of World War II.
Shay, knowing he may not live to see his son grow up, speaks to the child in a letter to tell him all the important things he wants him to know. He tells the boy that he lives in a land of great freedom and opportunity, that he should study hard and get all the education he can, play fair, try to win but be a good loser, never be a quitter, and follow the advice of those who love him because they’ll never let him down.
Shay tells his son to love and stay close to his mother and love his grandparents and aunts, and never forget his dad.
Sadly, Shay was killed in action shortly after writing his letter. But among the advice this brave man left was this, a message for all of us on Independence Day and always: Be a good Catholic — and you can’t help being a good American.
The lector for the mass was Richard Bruno. The music was provided by Eileen Peterson, Monica Peterson-St. John, and Frank D’Amato.