Kim McElaney

Kim’s funeral this morning, held in Worcester at Christ the King church, has left me in a thoughtful mood.  Amid the experience of a church full from front to back, the beautiful music, the powerful homily from Fr. Jim Hayes, the beautiful eulogy from Kim’s sister Julie, and the presence of so many grieving colleagues and students from the HC community, there was a sense of awe at the end that caught me by surprise and moved me deeply.

The emotion started with memories of my first years at Holy Cross as a Jesuit scholastic, from 1974 to 1976. I lived at Campion House with Frs. Bob Manning and Paul Harman. The chaplains’ offices were then in the Hogan Center; we three Jesuits lived upstairs at Campion, hosted students to dinner on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday evenings (often Fr. Brooks joined us); and the downstairs rooms were open 24/7 for meetings and quiet study.

One of my best memories of those years was Morning Prayer (“Morning P,” in the students’ parlance). Students, generally eight or ten, came at 8 a.m., and we recited a version of morning prayer from that day’s Divine Office. Afterwards, round the big kitchen table, we had coffee and hot donuts, and spirited conversation that started the day on a high note (even if the weather was “worcestering”) for both Jesuits and students. Gerry McKeon, now a Jesuit priest, was part of that group and so was Kim. Gerry concelebrated the Mass this morning, and when I caught up to him at the end of the service, the memories of those happy days and of that group, flooded in.

It was a little bit like the scene in Our Town, when Emily is allowed to revisit her family after dying young, and encouters frustration because everything is so beautiful, so wonderful, and people are too busy to notice–the smell of fresh coffee, the taste of bread, the commitment and dedication of each family member….. 

So, of all the warm memories I have of Kim, dating back to 1974, it was the first ones that were a special blessing this morning. They came as a reminder not to be too busy to notice what’s good and wonderful, and to be grateful that, for over three decades, students like her have enriched and blessed my life. Thank you, Kim.  R.I.P.

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