A beloved bishop is being remembered as a “gentle shepherd” and “loving priest” who inspired others to become missionary disciples of Christ.
Retired Auxiliary Bishop Robert P. Maginnis was laid to rest Sept. 22, following a funeral Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul that drew hundreds of faithful, including clergy, family and friends, many of whom had known bishop simply as “Father Bob” or “Maginn.”
Bishop Maginnis — who retired in 2010 after decades of pastoral service in a number of capacities — died Sept. 14 at Villa Saint Joseph in Darby following a lengthy illness.
“He was a great man of the church, loved so deeply by the people,” said principal celebrant Archbishop Nelson Pérez, who was joined on the altar by retired Archbishop Charles Chaput; Archbishop Edward Adams, a Philadelphia native and apostolic nuncio emeritus to Great Britain; Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishops Edward Deliman (ret.), Michael Fitzgerald, John McIntyre and Timothy Senior; Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge; Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera and his retired predecessor Bishop Joseph Martino; Allentown Bishop Alfred Schlert; and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Coffey of the Archdiocese for Military Services, U.S.A.
At the liturgy, Archbishop Pérez read a message of condolence issued by the Vatican on behalf of Pope Francis, which included a personal message of sympathy from Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State.
Homilist Msgr. Michael Carroll, a fellow seminary classmate and longtime friend, said Bishop Maginnis’ mission was aptly summarized by his episcopal motto and coat of arms.
Drawn from Luke 24:29, Mane Nobiscum Domine (“Stay with us, Lord”) embodied both the late bishop’s deep relationship with Christ and his profound pastoral care for the souls entrusted to him, said Msgr. Carroll.
Throughout his various leadership posts – which spanned pastorates, youth and young adult ministry, evangelization, consecrated life, Black Catholic and Hispanic Catholic affairs and men’s spirituality – Bishop Maginnis remained close to faithful at all ages and stages of life, said Msgr. Carroll.
Under Bishop Maginnis’ mentorship, generations of youth went on to themselves enter religious life or embrace the vocations of marriage and parenthood, while continuing to rely on the bishop for guidance and support, Msgr. Carroll said.
The monsignor admitted he even “got annoyed at times” by his friend’s insistence on accepting almost every invitation he received to preside at weddings and funerals.
“I’d ask him, ‘Can’t you say no once in a while?’ But it was always yes,” said Msgr. Carroll.
After his retirement, the bishop was a “comforting presence” to staff and residents at the Rosemont-based St. Edmond’s Home for Children, an archdiocesan Catholic Social Services ministry for children with profound intellectual and medical disabilities.
Like the disciples en route to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-35), Bishop Maginnis “walked the road” of life alongside Christ, and “invited many to do the same,” said Msgr. Carroll.
That call was represented by the white hand on Bishop Maginnis’ coat of arms — which the bishop, referencing his Irish heritage, often joked should be red to match the longtime symbol of Ulster, said Msgr. Carroll.
The coat of arms’ black band evoked the trials and tribulations of earthly life, amid which Christ – denoted by the eucharistic host and the Greek letters alpha and omega (cf. Rev 1:8,17; 21:6; 22:13) – remains a companion and guide, Msgr. Carroll said.
The white fleur-de-lis on the coat of arms expressed Bishop Maginnis’ unswerving devotion to Mary, said Msgr. Carroll, noting that next to the rosary, the Memorare was the bishop’s favorite prayer.
Even in death, the bishop affirmed his love for both Jesus and Mary, passing away in the final hours of Sept. 14, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, as the Sept. 15 memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows approached, said Msgr. Carroll.
Now, said Archbishop Pérez, his ministry continues, as Bishop Maginnis “intercedes for us from heaven.”
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