Pastor of St. Mary’s Leads with Quiet Strength, Part 2
(Read Part 1 here.)
Reverend Monsignor John J. McCann, Pastor of The Church of St. Mary is celebrating 50 years as a priest and his retirement as pastor. Monsignor McCann has been pastor at St. Mary’s for 17 years.
The celebration is being held at the North Hills Country Club in North Hills on Friday, May 29 at 6:30 p.m. On Sunday, May 31, there will be a celebratory mass at 12 noon. Bishop William F. Murphy will be celebrating mass along with Bishop Robert J. Coyle and Monsignor McCann. All the religious of The Church of St. Mary will be in the procession. There will be a reception outside after the mass. All are welcome. The official date of Monsignor’s retirement is Wednesday, June 24.
“Compared to other parishes on Long Island, St. Mary’s has a higher level of church attendance. Also, more young people participate at the church and in the ministries of the church,” said McCann. “Manhasset is a big family town. There is deep faith here in Manhasset.”
Vincent Hartley, facilities manager at The Church of St. Mary for 10 years, has known Monsignor since 1974. Hartley said “Monsignor is a great administrator. In today’s world, he has kept alive a Catholic grammar school and a high school. Very few parishes have both. He’s truly a remarkable gentleman.”
Manhasset resident and parishioner Dr. John Iaccono has known Monsignor McCann since they were in the same English composition class at St. John’s University in 1957. They would have coffee together before class, according to Iaccono. They lost touch until Monsignor became pastor at St. Mary’s. “Monsignor has a wonderful ability to take pastoral care of the souls in his parish. He has been a good shepherd,” said Iaccono. “He’s also an excellent administrator of a parish with a large physical plant, including two schools and all the ministries of the parish.” He’s a great mentor to younger priests, according to Iaccono. “Many younger priests come to him for advice,” said Iaccono. “For the priests assigned to St. Mary’s he is a great guide to them in their ministries. Many of them are coming to the celebration.”
The Rosary Society recently dedicated two benches at the rear of the church to Msgr. McCann. “The benches are dedicated to Msgr. McCann in thanks for all the years of work he has given us and the support he’s shown us,” said Linda Sellars, president of the Rosary Society. “Msgr. McCann has always been completely available to us,” said Sellars. “He’s extremely supportive of the Rosary Society. If there’s ever a problem, he’s a great person to work with. He’s a quiet man and a very good man. He’s engendered a kinship between organizations like the Knights of Columbus, the Squires of Columbus and the Rosary Society. He encourages expanding Catholic organizations. He never says no to ideas.” The Rosary Society at The Church St. Mary has 244 members.
“The beautiful statue of St. Mary is also dedicated to Msgr. McCann,” said Elizabeth DeLucia, treasurer of the Rosary Society. “Monsignor comes to our meetings every month and does a prayer. He’s involved in all organizations and he’s fair. The kids love him.”
Rosanna Allende, corresponding secretary of the Rosary Society, said “Monsignor is a very giving person. He’s always willing to listen, and he always comes to the Rosary Society meeting and says an opening prayer to guide us. He’s able to give us his ideas, but in a soft, kind way. He has such a busy schedule but he makes time to attend out meetings.”
Eileen Symmons, director of communications at The Schools of Saint Mary, said “Monsignor has had an enormous role here educating children, leading parishioners, and leading us all through challenging times in faith and in life.” The schools are a big party of his legacy as well. “He’s always been steadfast about his commitment to Catholic education,” said Symmons. “He’s a quiet man, but full of knowledge. He has many responsibilities including leading the Schools of St. Mary and the parish. He has a quiet personality, but he has strength and resolve.”
Grace Cavallo, president of St. Mary’s High School, said Monsignor fits the definition of being one-of-a-kind. “I’ve worked under Monsignor’s leadership for five years and he has been a strong advocate for catholic schools. As a graduate of St. Mary’s High School, his leadership has helped a generation of young students at St. Mary’s. He’s been a role model for living out the gospel and assuming a life of integrity and service to God and others.”
Msgr. McCann’s compassion extends beyond Manhasset as well. After Hurricane Sandy, Monsignor adopted Sacred Heart Church, a parish in Island Park that was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy. The church had been filled with over three feet of flood water, salt water and sewage that destroyed the wood floors, carpets and most of the contents of the church. Along with Fr. Allan Sikorski, who had been a resident of Sacred Heart, and Msgr. Tutone of Sacred Heart Church, they began a campaign to rebuild Sacred Heart.
Msgr. McCann also adopted a parish down south after Hurricane Katrina. “There are many examples of how he has reached beyond Manhasset,” said Symmons.
Parishioner Marc de Venoge said, “As someone who grew up in St. Mary’s parish, I can tell you that St. Mary’s is so much better in so many ways because of Msgr. McCann. Msgr. McCann went to St. Mary’s High School and graduated in 1957, and he gives the most vivid and poignant homily each Sunday because he spiritually understands the gospel and relates the word of God to topics of the day and to the hearts of his parishioners. Thank you, Monsignor.”
To read Part 1 of this story, click here.