Homily for the Funeral Liturgy
Rev. Richard D. McGloin, S.J.
St. John’s Church, Creighton University
March 15, 2005
Father Richard McGloin’s 50 years at Creighton University give testimony to the
priesthood of a Jesuit who was well grounded in a life set firmly on solid fundamental
principles. Being a classicist, he studied the time-tested methods that characterized the
civilization, language, and poetry of ancient Greece and Rome. He maintained a straight
course and even keel as he moved about in the world of his students, so often mired and
ravaged by their missteps and poor decisions. When we, as students, came to him so
baffled and confused by the calamities of life, Fr. McGloin would sit and listen, and then
tell us how inconsequential those upsets really were. He would redirect us, set us back on
course, pointing us toward those forward-looking goals of greater significance and
Oh Father, how we will miss your objectivity, simplicity, balance, dignified restraint, and
wry humor. Our youthful ambivalence and romantic ideals stood in such contrast to your
steady and unruffled soul. O tempora, O mores! – “Oh, the times! The customs!” you
would say, quoting Cicero. And then, letting out that little titter of delight, you would
send us on our way, revitalized, with our heads chock-full of your unforgettable wisdom.
We put it into immediate practice and we contemplate it for a lifetime.
Each one of you here tonight has stories about Fr. McGloin; let me relate a couple.
While at Marquette High School in Milwaukee in 1955 a promising young man in his
senior year was making application to join the Society of Jesus. Fr. McGloin was one of
the examiners for candidates applying to the Jesuits. This young man went through a
series of interviews and examinations but was found deficient in Latin, and was deemed
incapable to handle the rigors of studies, and thereby unsuitable as a Jesuit candidate for
priesthood. But Fr. McGloin, seeing the potential in the young man, took him aside and
for many weeks tutored him in Latin. The Latin examination was re-administered, and
this time the young man received a passing score and was reclassified as fit to enter the
Society of Jesus. This young man would, 35 years later, become Fr. McGloin’s rector at
Creighton University and subsequently the provincial of the Wisconsin Province. We all
know him; he is Fr. Ed Mathie, S.J. Fr. McGloin once told me, “But of course, I only
taught him what was on the test.”
Another young man, a student at Creighton living in Swanson Hall in the mid 1970’s,
was interested in becoming a Jesuit, but needed a little push, “a gentle nudge,” as Father
would say. Fr. McGloin encouraged him regularly to call Fr. Mark Niemann at
Creighton Prep, the principle examiner for potential Jesuit candidates. April came, the
call was never made, and the school year was nearly at an end; Fr. McGloin confronted
the young man about his future in pursuing a vocation in the Society of Jesus. When the
young man stalled and brushed off the suggestion, Fr. McGloin turned his back on him
and said, “You are not cut out to be a Jesuit.” That affront so incensed the young man
that he immediately ran up the stairs to his room, and called Fr. Niemann initiating the
interview for application to the Jesuits. The next day in class, Fr. McGloin whispered to
that young man, “Did you make a call to Fr. Niemann last night?” That young man
tonight, 31 years later, is now preaching the homily at Father’s funeral.
Fr. McGloin saw the potential in most anyone who came his way, and spared no labors in
bringing potency into act. How many students did he help in making a Creighton
education affordable? How many professionals did he set up in practice? How many
couples was he instrumental in bringing together in Christian marriage? How many
times did he repeat the process with the children, and grandchildren, nieces and
grandnephews of his former students? Father McGloin always began the public part of
his day with the celebration of the Eucharist. It was his distinct privilege to actively
participate in the daily reception of the Body and Blood of Christ. And he conveyed this
Eucharistic image of the Body of Christ into his priestly work. He spent his priesthood
building the Kingdom of God by enlivening the members of the Body, encouraging them
and directing their steps down the road of faith.
A few years ago I took Father into the emergency room at Bergan Mercy Hospital when
he was experiencing pain. I wandered outdoors while he was undergoing a battery of
tests, and I began reading the names inscribed on the memorial bricks placed on the
walkway. I joined Father later and announced to him that I found the name of Sr. Mary
Alocoque, his sister, inscribed on a memorial brick. He exclaimed, “She has a brick? I
have my name on a building. That’s a whole lot of bricks.” Let that building which
bears his name stand as an enduring monument to a priest who built up the body of
Christ, and let each brick symbolize a member of Christ’s body whom he touched. And
as Father felt privileged that he could remain with us on earth in modestly good working
order to see his 90th birthday, know the joy that he could celebrate this milestone with us.
I think that from his place in heaven he must feel that same joy tonight. Know that he
remains interested in the lives and state of affairs of all of you. He will be watching and
praying for you.
And let me close with the words he wrote to me as I entered the Jesuit Novitiate those
many years ago. “‘Perge modo et, qua te ducit via, derige gressum,’ as a famous Latin
poet once wrote.” Push on down the road and, on whatever way the path leads you,
watch your step.
Father David L. Smith, S.J.
Creighton University Retreat Center