Pat spent his early twenties acting in summer stock and doing bit parts on Broadway, and scored his first film success playing the part of reporter Hildy Johnson in the 1931 production of "The Front Page" after appearing in three films prior to that. That was the same year he married Eloise Taylor a young beauty who would grow old with Pat as they stayed together through thick and thin until Pat's death in 1983. After appearing in fifty-two films after "Front Page," he landed the prime role of Father Jerry Connelly in the 1938 hit "Angels with Dirty Faces" in which his character traveled the "good" route in life compared to "Rocky" played by James Cagney, whom O'Brien's character converted in the end. It was one of nine films O'Brien would star in with fellow Irish-Catholic star Cagney who was the same age. Both would be true to their faith until their deaths three years apart in the 80's, both would marry in the 30's and be loyal to their marriage vows until death and both would star in their final movie "Ragtime" in 1981 after 50 years in film, both having begun in 1930. In so many films O'Brien always played the quintessential American Irishman, a role that naturally fit him. He excelled in roles of beneficient men and he became famous for his portrayals of priests. Besides his character of Father Jerry in "Angels", a year later he played the part of the chaplain Father Duffy in "The Fighting 69th." His biggest role came that same year in the title role of "Knute Rockne All American.", a film which would also star another budding actor who would go on to become President of the United States - Ronald Reagan. In 1946, Pat became the "official" leader of New York's annual St. Patrick's Day parade. In 1958, after 96 films by O'Brien and 75 films by Spencer Tracy, Pat was finally reunited with his childhood colleague in the powerful drama about Tammany Hall called "The Last Hurrah." It was the only movie the two would star in together. In 1973, the Catholic Actors Guild made O'Brien their "Man of the Year."
Being Irish with the love for the brew and the good life, one of Pat's hobbies was horse-racing and shortly after he had arrived in Hollywood, he and fellow Catholic movie stars Bing Crosby and Jimmy Durante built a race track in beautiful Del Mar, California just north of San Diego and every summer the three of them would spend much of their time at the track overlooking the blue Pacific. Often, between shoots the three would commute, hopping in the car early in the morning in LA and stop off at Mission San Juan Capistrano for morning Mass before heading south 80 miles to Del Mar for the day. Today O'Brien, like Crosby and Durante, has a building on the grounds named after him as well as a stakes race every year. Pat ran with the pack of Irish-Catholics who had good, clean fun - fellow actors like Cagney, Crosby, Durante, Barry Fitzgerald and Mickey Rooney who got a little too wild for their good. Throughout his career, which included 110 movies, numerous TV guest appearances and several radio programs, he always exemplified the Irish-Catholic and the ideals of the Church in his personal life. To his credit, Pat would never compromise his faith or principles. He often turned down roles that were morally offensive because of his faith which, in the competitive industry of Hollywood, was more than commendable. He never forgot his roots and had to enjoy his final role in "Ragtime" with Cagney for both grew up in that era as they reminisced on the set together, two old pros who between them had appeared over 190 films. Pat always maintained his Irish sense of humor.
After an illustrious film career, he became incapacitated after "Ragtime" and died two years later a month short of his 84th birthday at his home in Santa Monica with his devoted wife Eloise at his side on October 15, 1983 - the Feast of Saint Teresa of Avila. He was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City. At his funeral in 1983, his old friends Jimmy Cagney and Ronald Reagan were the first to mourn publicly at the passing of Hollywood's and America's favorite Irishman who was considered Hollywood's "Irishman in Residence." Though he never wore the Roman Collar in real life, his portrayal of priests had to have influenced many a young man to consider a vocation to the priesthood and we have to wonder how many priests today can trace their calling back to watching his portrayals as "Father Dunne, Father Duffy," or "Father Duffy."
Cardinal Medina Estevez was honored last year in the most recent Consistory of February 21, 1998 with the red-hat and elevated to the cardinalate as a cardinal-deacon, receiving the titular church of St. Sabas. At the same time the Holy Father promoted him to Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, a post he still holds. In addition, he is quite active in the Roman Curia with membership in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Bishops in addition to the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts all of which coorelate with his own Congregation.
At 73 this Archbishop emeritus of Valparaiso is not considered a serious candidate for the Papacy because of his lack of experience in international affairs and his age but he is ably commanding his Congregation and assisting the Holy Father bring the Church into the new millennium. He resides at the Vatican at 00120 Vatican City State, Europe.
Well realizing the need for a complete catechesis, I made my own the proposal of the Fathers of the 1985 Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to compose “a catechism or compendium of all Catholic doctrine regarding both faith and morals”, which could serve as “a point of reference for the catechisms or compendia that are prepared in the various regions”. (257) This proposal was implemented with the publication of the typical edition of the Catechismus Catholicae Ecclesiae. (258) In addition to the text of the Catechism, and for a better utilization of its contents, I intended that a General Directory for Catechesis should also be compiled and published. (259) I heartily recommend the use of these two resources, of universal value, to everyone involved in catechesis in America. It is to be hoped that both documents will be employed “in the preparation and the evaluation of all parochial and diocesan programs of catechesis, bearing in mind that the religious situation of young people and adults calls for a catechesis which is more kerygmatic and more organic in its presentation of the contents of the faith”. (260)
It is necessary to acknowledge and encourage the outstanding work done by so many catechists throughout America as authentic messengers of the kingdom: “Their faith and their witness of life are an integral part of catechesis”. (261) I wish all the more to encourage the faithful to take up, with commitment and love of the Lord, this service to the Church, generously offering their time and their talents. Bishops for their part should be concerned that catechists receive appropriate formation to enable them to carry out this task, so indispensable in the life of the Church.
In catechesis it will be useful to keep in mind, especially on a continent like America where the social question takes on such importance, that “growth in the understanding of the faith and its practical expression in social life are intimately connected. Efforts made to favor an encounter with Christ cannot fail to have a positive repercussion in the promotion of the common good in a just society”. (262)
In America, the mestiza face of the Virgin of Guadalupe was from the start a symbol of the inculturation of the Gospel, of which she has been the lodestar and the guide. Through her powerful intercession, the Gospel will penetrate the hearts of the men and women of America and permeate their cultures, transforming them from within. (266)
Something similar must also be said about Catholic schools, particularly with regard to secondary education: “A special effort should be made to strengthen the Catholic identity of schools, whose specific character is based on an educational vision having its origin in the person of Christ and its roots in the teachings of the Gospel. Catholic schools must seek not only to impart a quality education from the technical and professional standpoint, but also and above all provide for the integral formation of the human person. (271) Given the importance of the work done by Catholic educators, I join the Synod Fathers in gratefully encouraging all those devoted to teaching in Catholic schools — priests, consecrated men and women and committed lay people — “to persevere in their most important mission”. (272) The influence of these educational centers should extend to all sectors of society, without distinction or exclusion. It is essential that every possible effort be made to ensure that Catholic schools, despite financial difficulties, continue to provide “a Catholic education to the poor and the marginalized in society”. (273) It will never be possible to free the needy from their poverty unless they are first freed from the impoverishment arising from the lack of adequate education.
In the overall work of the new evangelization, the educational sector occupies a place of honor. For this reason, the activity of all Catholic teachers, including those working in non-denominational schools, should be encouraged. I also make an urgent appeal to men and women religious not to abandon this field which is so important for the new evangelization. (274)
As a fruit and an expression of the communion existing between all the particular Churches of America, certainly strengthened by the spiritual experience of the Synodal Assembly, an effort must be made to promote gatherings of Catholic educators at the national and continental levels, in an attempt to coordinate and expand the educational apostolate in every context. (275)
To carry out these tasks, the Church in America requires a degree of freedom in the field of education; this is not to be seen as a privilege but as a right, in virtue of the evangelizing mission entrusted to the Church by the Lord. Furthermore, parents have a fundamental and primary right to make decisions about the education of their children; consequently, Catholic parents must be able to choose an education in harmony with their religious convictions. The function of the State in this area is subsidiary; the State has the duty “to ensure that education is available to all and to respect and defend freedom of instruction. A State monopoly in this area must be condemned as a form of totalitarianism which violates the fundamental rights which it ought to defend, especially the right of parents to provide religious education for their children. The family is the place where the education of the person primarily takes place”. (276)
NEXT MONDAY: Installment twenty-four: THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH IN AMERICA TODAY: THE NEW EVANGELIZATION Evangelization through the Media
O! That today all would give to Me their stony hearts, their proud spirits their vicious tongues and all uncontrolled passions. O! Come to Me. Come now and every day henceforth, for I solemnly say unto you.
It shall not be sufficient in the time of darkness and Justice if you come, only on this Holy Easter day, and never reflect upon Me, seek Me nor give your life to Me the rest of the days!
Woe! Woe to you of lukewarm heart, for it shall be nigh unto impossible for you to persevere unto Life Everlasting if you do not forsake the world and follow Me now!
O! For all who kept watch with Me with a sincere heart throughout Lent and especially during Holy Week, I shower upon you great blessings and great Mercy, for you have converted your hearts. O! How you comforted Me!
The world shall not know of the graces merited which have mitigated and even delayed some of the chastisements.
On this glorious day, know that I am with you. I am before you in the Most Blessed Sacrament, where as yet a veil remains over your eyes. Behold, I am with you in all things and remain with you as long as you are meek, humble, contrite children.
Seek to call down Divine Mercy upon all the world. Say the Novena to My Divine Mercy and let My Holy Name be ever on your lips. All Praise to the Blessed Trinity! All Praise now and forever.
All shall be fulfilled.
Prepare and watch, for the Hour of Visitation is at hand!
O! I beseech my little ones to open their hearts fully to God Who loves you and seeks your eternal salvation.
Little ones, how eagerly should you use every moment to rush to the Font of Divine Mercy. All men are in need of Mercy, but you do not seek it. It is so often neglected and even rejected. O! I solemnly say to all of my children if you would cry out with one heart and one voice for Mercy, it shall be given unto you. How merciful is my Divine Son, and yet you scorn and reject Him!
Little ones of my Immaculate Heart, I do solemnly tell you that the whole world shall experience turmoil. There have been given to you as warnings disasters of nature and of man-made devices.
These events shall increase and no human force shall be able to stop them! These events shall continue to strike when least expected and in places where man does not anticipate them.
You have only to respond with a humble, contrite heart and pray, pray, pray! Why do you fear earthly suffering and sacrifice, my children, when it becomes for you an eternal life of joy?!
O! I solemnly tell you: Behold the signs of warning already given. When will your hearts be melted, O my children? I am no longer able to hold back the hand of my Divine Son, and the Chalice of Justice shall be poured out!
Pray, my children, as you have never prayed before, and seek Mercy. Accept all things humbly in the Name of Jesus, and seek the Refuge of His Most Sacred Heart which shall not fail you in the times ahead.
I love and bless you! Thank you for responding to my Call!