Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Father James Halligan

The funeral for Father James Halligan was held on Saturday at St. Raymond's.

I'd never been to St. Raymond's before. What a gorgeous church.

[I had, of course, been past the cemetery a thousand times. You know how if you take the Whitestone Bridge to the Bronx headed for the Hutchinson Parkway, and as soon as you get out of the toll booth you pass that huge white cross on your right? That's St. Raymond's cemetery.]

Like the wake, the funeral was packed. The Mass was concelebrated by maybe thirty priests. When it was over an honor guard of uniformed kids from the high school lined the steps of the church and the sidewalk as the coffin was taken out, and bagpipes played. (Fr. Halligan's family had a lot of cops.)

This was all for a man who. in the eyes of the world, had no success in life. None.

He had rheumatic fever as a child, and his heart was severely damaged. They almost didn't ordain him because of his health.

The year after his ordination he suffered congestive heart failure. He would be in and out of hospitals his whole life.

He really wanted to be an Army chapain. But that was impossible, because of his health.

He never had his own parish, was never a pastor. Because of his health.

He worked all his life for pastors who, though they valued him, must have sometimes considered him a liability, because of his health.

He knew all about the value of humility. He tried to teach me; I still have a lot to learn, obviously.

Father Halligan was a great man, a great priest; he was my saint.

Everyone should have a Father Halligan in his life. If you haven't found yours yet, go out and find him. Today.


Anonymous said...

Great. He was a great man

Fr. Doughty said...

Actually, there were close to 100 priests. I don't know whether it's true that he had policemen in his family, but his uncle, a chief with the NYC FD, invented the Halligan tool that no fireman would be without. His uncle had callouses on his fingers from praying the Rosary to ensure that all his firefighters would return safely (they all did!), and after his retirement, devoted himself to spreading the saying of those prayers to Our Lady. Fr. Halligan was also devoted to Our Lady and the Rosary and most importantly to the Blessed Sacrament. Even in ill health, he could be found on his knees before the tabernacle. All who knew him believed him to be a saint, a man for whom humility was a passion.

Anonymous said...

St. Raymonds Church and the mass for Father Halligan was absolutely wonderful. We will surely miss him.

My husband and I went to Father Halligan for 6 months of pre-cana, due to the fact we were married before. He married us 25 years ago this May. If it wasn't for Father Halligan our marriage would never have lasted so long. Humility was something we spoke about often, it is something I work on daily. He was definitely a saint in our lives.

Sister Mary Patrick said...

I knew Fr. Jim Halligan from the late 60's, early 70's. I met him as a parishoner of St. Raymonds and kept in touch with him and visited him on and off till before his death. He was a magnificent priest, a good friend, a holy man. He taught me many things. Humility was his keyword and oh, how he lived it. I miss him still but know he is always with us. With some help from him I might even get to heaven one day for a grand reunion!

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me the date of his death?