Bishop Andrew Joseph McDonald
October 24, 1923 – April 1, 2014
The following are excerpts from the Homily preached by Msgr. J. Gaston Hebert, at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock, AR, on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at the Mass of Christian Burial for Bishop Andrew J. McDonald.
“It was 1972 when Andrew J. McDonald was named bishop of Little Rock, AR. The Spirit called him to leave the security and comfort of Savannah, GA, to become a bishop where he was unknown. He entered an ecclesiastical war zone, where those who expected too little and those who expected too much from Vatican II were squared off against each other.
Here was a priest sent by the Holy Spirit to breathe new life into the diocese, to implement changes and the vision of Vatican II in a diocese known for its conservative approach. The design of the Spirit becomes more obvious in sending a strong, intelligent, hard headed, stubborn Irishman, capable of holding his ground and standing up for what he knew in his heart was the will of God.
It is remarkable how the Spirit uses the experiences of our lives in forming us to be instruments of salvation for others. Being one of 12 children taught Bishop Andrew that the good of the whole can only be accomplished through the efforts of the many. He enlisted the aid of clergy, religious and laity to address the needs of the diocese. He instituted a program for the formation of permanent deacons, who have since served with humility and dedication.
The religious education of the laity saw enormous growth as Catholics were encouraged to open their bibles and to read study and pray. The Cursillo movement, Marriage Encounter, Pre-Cana, Retrouvaille, Renew, Call to Action and the Charismatic movement became just a part of the programs offered to help the laity know, love, and serve God.
Having four sisters who were nuns, the welfare of religious women was always a top priority. Bishop McDonald invited Blessed Mother Teresa to bring her Missionaries of Charity to Abba House, a place where unwed mothers and women in need find a home.
Nostalgically we remember Bishop McDonald for his Irish wit, his little sheepish smile, his horrid jokes and puns, the half wave accompanied by mischievous grin as he processed down the aisle, his compassion for the suffering (particularly his brother priests), the reverence he had for his deceased parents, the love he had for his siblings and their families and his sorrow as all eleven proceeded him in death, his adequate golf game, the manner in which he multiplied his homilies on a given occasion (often as many as three), and above all that wonderful horse laugh.
He became loved and respected by laity, religious, and clergy because he kept his promise to show by his service that he loved us and cared about us.
Regardless of his accomplishments as our bishop, nothing so became Bishop Andrew J. McDonald like leaving his miter and crozier behind to humbly serve the sick and dying with the Little Sisters of the Poor at St. Joseph’s Home. The responsibilities and crosses of the episcopacy had served to form a good, simple, humble, joyful, loving priest of God, who still desired to live and die in such a manner as to prove that he loved and cared. Lent is over for Bishop Andrew J. McDonald, and an eternal Easter has begun.”
His Eminence Francis Cardinal George presided over the Mass of Christian Burial at. St. Theresa’s Church in Palatine on
Friday, April 5, 2014, for Bishop Andrew Joseph McDonald.