When Monsignor Moran was serving as pastor here at St. Patrick’s, he loved to preach. And he admitted to the parish that he just could not stop talking about Jesus from the pulpit. The parishioners here proposed something gentle, and he agreed. He was asked to preach with an egg timer. When the timer went off, he would wrap up his homily.
And so today, in his honor, and because I could preach about Monsignor for hours, I have brought an egg timer with me. Father Bedel, apologies if I just reminded the parish about this custom, and they come to you this week wanting to bring back the egg timer here at St. Patrick’s!
To set the scene I do feel it would be good just to mention some tangible things about Monsignor’s priestly service that lasted 67 years and 1 day. There may be some who don’t know him as well. A quick story to illustrate this. I grew up a cradle Catholic in Indianapolis, and as a seminarian for 6 years got to meet so many of the priests in the archdiocese at cookouts or in summer assignments. But it wasn’t until I had already been a priest for one year that I had ever heard of Msgr. Moran. In my first year of priesthood, I realized I couldn’t keep making the 3 hour drive for spiritual direction to St. Meinrad, and so I asked Fr. Giannini, our vicar for clergy at the time, if he knew of anyone closer, and he steered me toward Msgr. Moran, whom I had not heard of before.
I consider it one of the great blessings of my life to have had the opportunity to get to know Monsignor over these past 9 years and work alongside him as a brother priest.
So to his family, thank you for sharing him with this Terre Haute Deanery, even though you probably would have preferred to have him closer. Thank you, as well, for supporting him and allowing him to become part of this family of priests of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis for these 67 years. The Church sees each diocese’s group of priests as a type of family, and following Mass today, we his brothers will sing the Salve Regina as his casket is loaded into the hearse. It is a beautiful family tradition that we always do for our brothers. Again, to his first family, thank you for sharing him with us.
So, his priestly ministry. In a sentence, he lived the type of priesthood I think all of us dreamed of living when we first started thinking about the priesthood.
Mother Anne said it best. She said “His priestly zeal was remarkable. You couldn’t keep him from doing everything he could to evangelize, to work for vocations, the poor, the ideas he came up with were one after the other. Some worked, and some didn’t. He was overflowing with inspiration, but he always was also willing to turn it over to the laity”
On so many things he did, he was 20-30 years ahead of the curve in terms of emphasizing them.
He was a pro-life warrior and ran straight into the fight to protect the unborn. Lest anyone think his love for life was only for the unborn and mothers, though, he also spent hours and hours keeping vigil and praying that Timothy McVay be spared the death penalty.
He was 20 years ahead on the new evangelization, as he was doing the new evangelization before Pope St. John Paul II had even published that phrase. He had a TV doing evangelization in Indianapolis and in Terre Haute for 16 years. He threw everything he could into Catholic Radio here in the Wabash Valley, and hosted a weekly show himself, interviewing over 800 guests from around the world. The EWTN community knew him well, and many of the on air personalities joined his show over the years, and many recorded tributes to him these past few weeks.
He was 20 years ahead on perpetual adoration and the power it can have on a parish and a local community. He started the second chapel in our Archdiocese 25 years ago, and since it was founded, our Lord has been adored in the Terre Haute deanery for 216,720 hours as of 11 am this morning.
He was a priest of the confessional, and he preached about the sacrament, but then he backed it up by being a person that people sought out for confession.
He loved Catholic schools. He would tell anyone that would listen, 20-30 years ago, that “we need to do everything we can to save the family. We must save the family!” St. Pat’s school thrived under him and one eye witness said that the kids all just absolutely adored him and would follow Msgr. Around all over campus and he passed out holy cards, by the 1000’s
My point is this – he was a man who lived in the trenches and embodied the 1000 directions you go in as a diocesan priest.
Everything, for him, was about Jesus Christ. Not himself. And so we come to the Gospel. “Were not our hearts burning within us as he opened the Scriptures for us?” Whether on TV, the radio, at Mass, in the confessional, at school, or a million other places, people left his presence with their hearts set on fire for Jesus Christ, and that’s all he ever wanted.
There is an important aspect to all this priestly zeal that deserves mention. Although he lived in the breach between good and evil, although he was a general on the spiritual battlefield, although he fought against and preached against and ministered in the face of the diabolical, he also was full of hope.
In his first year as a priest, a mentor priest gave Monsignor Moran a piece of advice: “Don’t get angry”. And it stuck. Mother Anne said that she only saw him get angry once in 20 years, and it wasn’t even at a person. His smile is what so many remember about him, his kindness, his warmth, even in the midst of the battles. Hope. He was a man of hope, and “Hope does not disappoint”
Many of us, whether we are religious sisters, lay faithful, or priests – we struggle to live BOTH courageously AND with hope. We struggle to embody both virtues simultaneously. We tend to prefer one side or the other as Christians.
Either we lack the courage to run into the cultural breach and fight evil, and so we choose to sit on the sideline, and be quiet, or offer milquetoast generalities about evil that don’t really help anyone in the fight. If that is you, ask Monsignor to intercede for you that you might act with his courage in the world.
But others might have the zeal of Monsignor, but perhaps lack his hope. Perhaps you are beaten down by the evil in the world, so although you fight for Christ, you are tempted to lose hope. If that is you, remember his smile and his joy and ask him to intercede for you.
As the egg timer gets ready to go off on the final homily here at St. Patrick’s that will ever be delivered in the presence of his body, we commend his SPIRT to the Father. We believe, of course, that Monsignor Moran can now pray for us, and that we can continue to pray for him.
At every funeral Monsignor did, he always mentioned 2 Timothy 4:7, and so it seems appropriate to say this about him now: “You have fought the good fight. You have finished the race. You have kept the Faith” Rest in peace.