He had a lasting impact On people served Rev. Francis Patrick Meaney, spiritual and temporal leader of St. Joseph’s R.C. Parish for forty years, died at St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital in St. John’s on Sunday, Sept. 11. He was 79 years old. On the evening of Sept. 14 a faith-filled grateful people, proceeded by a K of C Honour Guard, packed into St. Joseph’s church to celebrate a thanksgiving ceremony to God for the life, gifts and talents of Rev. Frank Meaney. Bishop J. Faber MacDonald, together with fifteen priests and a seminarian from the Diocese of Grand Falls, led the service. On Wednesday afternoon, the K of C joined the huge crowd to celebrate the final farewell funeral liturgy before the body of Father Frank Meaney would find a resting place in a plot reserved for priests in Mount Patricia Cemetery, Corner Brook. Father Meaney was born in Brigus, Conception Bay on Nov. 19, 1909. He grew up in Harbour Grace attending primary and elementary school there. After graduating from high school at St. Bonaventure’s College, St. John’s, he proceeded to Laval University in preparation for the Priesthood. On May 26, 1934, Rev. Meaney, bi-lingual, was ordained a priest in Quebec. He then returned to the Diocese of Harbour Grace. For six years he served as assistant priest in the Immaculate Conception Parish in Harbour Grace and ministering to the R.C. people on the Labrador Coast during the summer months.
In July 1940, Father Meaney became the first pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Windsor. His ability and skill as a builder quickly became evident. Living in a rented home he undertook the task of constructing a six-room suitable school, a dwelling place and a church to replace one recently destroyed by fire.
By 1943, Father Meaney had erected and officially opened a Convent to accommodate seven Presentation Sisters to care for the educational needs of a rapidly growing parish. By 1954, the congregation had Out grown the church and were comfortably accommodated in another erected on the previous foundation. The latter was completely renovated by Father Meaney according to the Church renewal proposals of Vatican Council II.
By the mid-fifties, the six-room school had become an imposing structure of 24 rooms, complete with up-to- date facilities. Today, the young R.C. students of Windsor enjoy their school days in St. Francis Xavier School built and named as a tribute to the priest who, for a generation and a quarter, so unselfishly devoted himself to the spiritual and educational needs of St. Joseph’s Parish.
In addition the parish ministry included travelling to all R.C. missions as far west as the boundary of Deer Lake - i.e. Badger, Millertown Junction, the Gaff Topsails, Little Bay, Pilley’s Island, Robert’s Arm, Little Bay Islands, St. Patrick’s and Springdale.
From 1949-53, Father Meaney commuted three Sisters from the Convent in Windsor to teach in the school in Badger. During these years, Father Meaney lost no time in reconstructing a recently purchased family home into a convent complete in all details expected of R.C. Church law in the 1950’s. By 1955, with the aid of workhorses and the people of Badger, he transported the school and church onto the convent grounds collecting all three buildings into one imposing parish property.
For forty years, dedicating the ministry to the people of Windsor Parish was Father Meaney’s main concern. The huge crowd of mourners who attended two funeral ceremonies testify, in no small degree to Father Meaney’s ability to touch and spiritually inspire people. During his fifty-four years of priestly ministry Father Meaney was recognized by all people as a strong personality. He was candid and outspoken and a person very much concerned about the spiritual and temporal welfare all people but especially that of the poor,and the underpriviledged and rejected. Indeed he was a man ahead of his time in justice and social concerns.
He displayed a unique ability to examine matters in a solid philosophical and theological manner, challenging issues of faith, freedom and morals.
Parishioners of St. Joseph’s, in tribute to him, speak of his energy, his courage, and his ability to foster and maintain the co-operation of his people. They speak of guidance and enlightenment coming from his teaching and his example. They speak of his compassion for the sick, the poor and the unfortunate. His brother priests speak of Father Frank’s prayerful life and his total dependence on and faith in God.
Father Meaney retired from active duty in 1979. He continued to live near the parish so dear to his heart until August 1988, when he took up residence in St. Patrick’s Mercy Home. He died on September 11, 1988, having faithfully fulfilled the mandate of his priestly ordination and highly respected by all who knew him as brother priest, friend, neighbor or fellow-citizen. Magdalen O’Brien PBVM
HOMILY FATHER MEANEY’S
My Dear Friends:
Today we come together as brother Priests, friends, beloved former parishioners of Father Meaney to celebrate the Holy Eucharist in thanksgiving to God for the life, gifts and talents given by God to Father Frank Meaney, gifts that he used to reach out, to touch and to heal so many people. Father Meaney posessed many wonderful gifts and talents, but his greatest gift was the ability to be a friend to so many, and while he could walk with the greatest, his deepest love was for the poor, the underprivileged, the lonely, the downtrodden of society. This is what St. Paul speaks of in the second reading - “Put on love.” (1 Cor. 13) His whole life was to be a companion to people on their spiritual journey to the hidden reality and mystery of Jesus.
In reflecting on his death and on his life, I see how deeply he affected the lives of all who knew him. I think this fact was proven last night and today by the huge numbers that came along to pray for him and say a final farewell. What a great tribute to a great man. Father Meaney deposited something of his life in every person he met, seeds that would and will continue to grow and bear fruit. Father Meaney expanded the last energy of his life in the service of his God and of others. There is no more life in him because it has been totally given away.
Rev. Kevin Barker
My friends, it is a rare and wonderful experience to know a Priest of God such as Father Frank Meaney, a father, a spiritual friend, a brother, a companion. The People of St. Joseph’s, Windsor are indeed privileged to have had such a man as Frank Meaney to be their spiritual leader for 40 years and the Diocese of Grand Falls will miss a devoted, loyal and faithful Priest of God.
I would be remiss if I did not mention his great love for the Holy Eucharist. His constant visits to the Blessed Sacrament, his devotion to the Mother of God. As a curate to Father Meaney in the mid 60’s I was always impressed by his prayer life, at night sitting in the dim glow of the sanctuaty light in a little chapel before Christ presence in the Eucharist, or walking on the grounds thumbing his Rosary. He couldn’t have accomplished so much in life, during difficult years without that total dependence and faith in God.
Frank Meaney was an ordinary person with ordinary gifts, but because he put so much of himself in everything he did, and into every relationship he had, he became an extraordinary priest. He had the great grace of a parish priest, that rare common touch that made every person feel very special. In Father Frank Meaney we caught a glimpse, a touch of Jesus.
Father Meaney has glorified the Father’s name and because of his faithfulness is now experiencing the reward promised to all who faithfully serve him in this life. May his gentle soul rest in peace.
Rev. Kevin Barker,
Pastor, St. Joseph’s Parish, Windsor