Jesuit priest and school president offers prayers at McCain memorials

IMAGE: CNS photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool via Reuters


(CNS) — Jesuit Father Edward Reese, the president of St. Ignatius Prep School
in San Francisco, offered prayers in both Phoenix and Washington, including a
homily at the National Cathedral in Washington, after the death of John McCain,
the senator from Arizona who died Aug. 25 at age 81 after a long struggle with brain

Reese knew the McCain family when he was president at another Jesuit high
school, Brophy Prep in Phoenix, for 20 years. Two of McCain’s sons attended
Brophy and McCain’s wife, Cindy, served on the board of trustees.

In his
Sept. 1 homily, Father Reese quoted from Gerard Manley Hopkins, himself a
Jesuit priest and poet: “What I do is me: for that I came. But, I say more: the just man justices; keeps
grace: that keeps all his goings graces; acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he
is — Christ — for Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and
lovely in eyes not his, to the Father through the features of men’s faces.”

misunderstand me. We are not recommending John for sainthood. He was so very
human and for that reason we can see God in his life,” Father Reese said.

McCain “was
the just man justicing,” he added. “For John McCain, every human being deserved
to be treated justly. He saw God our Father through the features of every
person, especially those poor, persecuted by power and those in need.”

The 31-year
senator, who served in Vietnam and was held captive by the North Vietnamese for
six years, “was a man who loved and knew that love is seen in action — in
doing,” Father Reese said.

“He was
so often surrounded by servicemen and women for whom he has a special
affection.” In death, McCain continues to be surrounded by fellow servicemen
and women; he is buried at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis,

At an Aug.
31 memorial service at North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix, Father Reese reminded
mourners that “Jesus, at his final meal with his friends, charged them to ‘remember
me … in the breaking of the bread.'” Bread, the priest added, “must be broken
to be shared. We celebrate the life today of a man who unselfishly was broken that
we may all be put together again as one.”

Reese said, “We now are called to re-member, put together again in our lives
and heart, John McCain our brother, Jesus’ brother.”

quoted from another poet, Henry Scott-Holland, an Anglican priest who died in
1918. His “Death Is Nothing at All” was not intended to be a poem, but was delivered
as part of a 1910 sermon: “Laugh as we always laughed, at jokes we enjoyed
together. Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me. Let my name be ever the
household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effect. Without the
trace of a shadow on it.”

was a lifelong Episcopalian, but attended services at a Southern Baptist church
for 17 years.

to the memorial, Father Reese delivered an invocation for McCain at the Arizona
state capital in Phoenix where McCain lay in state. “Loving God, see our tears
for our brother, our father and husband, our fellow citizen and senator,” he
prayed. “Let these tears bring blooming in the desert he loved, in the country
he served, in all our hearts! Amen.”

Reese also said one of the opening prayers at the 2008 Republican National
Convention that nominated McCain for president. He is the brother of another
Jesuit priest, Father Thomas Reese, an author and journalist.

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