" Have you ever seriously reflected what those words mean, a God to be made man, and to die for thee? "
St. Alphonsus Liguori
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Golden Jubilee Homily -Fr Anthony Hunt and Fr Michael Henesy

by Fr. Andrew Burns C.Ss.R

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Fr Andrew Burns C.Ss.R, Fr Tony Hunt C.Ss.R, Fr Michael Henesy C.Ss.R

and Fr. Tim Buckley C.Ss.R

On the 17th September 2017 Fr Tony Hunt and Fr Michael Henesy celebrated the Golden Jubilee of their ordination. Fr Andrew Burns C.Ss.R gave the homily which follows.

In July of 1965, while Fr Tim and myself were pious novices in our monastery in Kinnoull in Perth in Scotland, some of our more senior students were involved in a national vocations exhibition in Earls Court in   London. 150 different religious communities, of men and women presented their life and mission to the public in the hope of attracting vocations but one of the most popular leaflets distributed during that mission came from the Redemptorists. It was in comic form, the conversation between two devils, and one was saying to the other ‘it’s a devil of a job being a devil today why because the redemptorists missioners were in town and where making it very difficult for the devils to do their job. All they could do was pack their forks and leave town

I’ve no idea how successful that leaflet was in attracting vocations to the Redemporists but the brains behind it, the humour the artistic skill was Fr. Michael Henesy, whose golden jubilee of ordination we celebrate today. And this memory came to me because of today’s readings.

The teaching of Ecclesiasticus to remember the last things and stop hating, to remember dissolution of death and live by the commandments. This would have been grist to the mill to Redemptorists of an earlier generation, driving out devils by preaching about the last things: death; and judgement and heaven and hell.

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The interpretation of the Gospel also in those days might have moved more on the threat of torture and condemnation than on the mercy of the King who forgave such an enormous debt.  But that was 1965 the new spirit of life and hope was sweeping through the church following the example of Pope John Xxiii and the teaching of the second Vatican council which had just finished. There was a feeling of confidence in the church, vocations were at a peak. The Redemptorists had over 50 students spread over 6 years at Hawkstone. All over the country there were new parishes, new schools, new churches, teacher training colleges, seminaries, and so it was on September 17th 1967 that three of our students were ordained to the priesthood here in Bishop Eton, all of them with Liverpool roots: Fr Michael Henesy; Fr. Anthony Hunt and Fr Philip Jones.

Each one of them destined to give the devils a devil of a job in vastly different ways.

Fr Michael went on to study music immediately and then went to our publishing house for many years producing such best sellers such as how to survive being married to a Catholic

There you are its still on sale, its still in print and I’m not sure whether he still gets the royalties but anyway

Fr Philip Jones went into a life of academia and teaching and Fr Tony Hunt went out to South Africa to the missions where he wore himself out physically for 56 years

As we look back now 50 years we couldn’t have imagined that life would have changed  so much that we’d be experiencing life in the church that is so different today with churches closing rather than opening, with so few vocations we may wonder have we been doing it wrong all these years, but today is not a day for analysis and regret, but rather for celebration for all the good that God has been able to achieve through the fidelity, and generosity and hard work of our confreres.

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Fr Tony Hunt C.Ss.R and Fr. Michael Henesy C.Ss.R

In today’s second reading St Paul says the life and death of each of us has its influence on others well today I have to say that Tony Hunt and Michael Henesy have had a great influence on me,

Tony as the dedicated missionary in Africa all the years that I was there.  His example of zeal, of commitment, of hard work, of caring for the poorest people in the community. Building churches, promoting local vocations and I hope a good friend also to me.

Michael the communicator extraordinaire, an artist, cartoonist, musician a man continually bursting with fresh ideas even today, so you’d better watch out our music groups are likely to be assisted with a ‘tenor sax is it’ ‘soprano’  Oh  soprano is it well there you are so today I just want to give thanks. Thanks to God and thanks to Michael and Tony for their example, their humour, their down to earth goodness. Yes I truly believe that through your life, through your ministry the devils have had a devil of a job and long may it continue, so lets give them a hand.

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Fr Tony and Fr. Michael with some of Fr Tony's family