It’s unfathomable to me that it has been 25 years since Fr. Healy died. More than anyone else, he helped me to see that God loved me and that I was part of the Church. Perhaps more importantly, however, he helped me understand that as such, I had a responsibility to others, in my immediate neighborhood, country, and the world. He was a priest, a prophet, and a human with all our flaws, sins, and idiosyncrasies.
At the time of his death from AIDS, I remember that many were shocked, even angry, that he had the disease and that he’d chosen to hide it until just weeks before his death. I knew years earlier that Fr. Healy was HIV positive. I once took him to a new physician in the hopes of changing the course of his disease once protease inhibitors came into existence. He brought a plastic bag full of medication to the appointment but then explained to the doctor that he couldn’t keep up the regimen of pills because he was so busy with his ministry. That experience of Fr. Healy has always stayed with me. He was so busy taking care of others that his own health wasn’t a priority. If I had any anger at him at the time, it was likely lessened by understanding his focus.
It has always been sad to me that the cause of his death has overshadowed his ministry and perhaps his legacy. HIs words moved me to tears each week. A recent graduate from a Catholic college, where attending Mass was something that everyone did as a means of avoiding studying for the week ahead, I’d never been so moved as I was each week, listening to Fr. Healy’s homilies. I frequently cried. I got involved. I worked on behalf of others and knew, as Fr. Healy would say, “in the depth of my being” that I belonged in God’s Church.
My uncle, a priest at that time in the Washington Archdiocese, gave me some tapes of Fr. Healy’s homilies and explained the 3 liturgical cycles. Then, more tapes were found in the old rectory and somehow were passed on to me, perhaps by Fr. Tuz. Soon parishioners who had long ago moved on to other areas, found me and provided me with still more tapes of his homilies. I’ve been digitizing and posting them according to the liturgical calendar for more than a decade and yet I still have more tapes that haven’t been heard yet.
Who would have thought that these homilies, many of which were originally delivered, more than thirty years ago, would be not only inspiring, but so helpful to those that couldn’t attend Mass due to a pandemic? Albeit a bit biased, these homilies are timeless with important truths and messages still to be heard. They are also a glimpse into the past where a greater context of now historical events can be understood.
My hope is that somehow this collection can live on in an accessible archive. Now in late-middle age, I know that I cannot manage this indefinitely so I am putting this hope out there and remaining open to what might become available.
Today, as a means of remembering a great priest and prophet, I hope you’ll join me in taking just a few minutes to remind yourself that you are a child of God…and then do something simple or extraordinary for someone else, especially the poor or marginalized, because we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.
Frank Finamore, website creator