Father Mark McGeary (Diocese of Des Moines '19), St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Des Moines, Iowa
Submitted by: Deb Hummel
Father Mark shared a holy hour of Eucharistic Adoration before daily Mass, and during the pandemic, when public Mass was suspended in our diocese, he took Eucharistic Adoration to Facebook Live and added a daily Rosary. It was a daily connection for our parish family and to the Real Presence of Our Lord. He led by example of how to center ourselves with our faith in this unsettled time. Even after public Masses resumed, he has continued to stream Eucharistic Adoration and the rosary on weekdays through Facebook. Father Mark also took the time to share the lives of the saints and continue to stoke the fires of our faith.
He was and is always available to schedule confession when requested. We may not have had the Eucharist, but our parish had the ability to maintain a state of grace. Father Mark's gentle guidance in confession has inspired me to keep working on my weaknesses, to not lose hope in my salvation when I inevitably fall, and to feel comfortable coming in for confession more often.
As we have transitioned back to more regular Masses, there was a backlog of baptisms and First Communions. With a mighty effort when the pastor was on sabbatical, most of the First Communicants have received the Eucharist for the first time this month. With the largest parish in our state, this is a big accomplishment!
Having daily Eucharistic Adoration has changed my life for the better! As a mother of a school-aged child, life can get hectic. Being able to slip out and have time with the Lord before I start my day in earnest when I am not working is a precious gift. It has blessed my husband and marriage, as well.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Father Mark was outside of his own comfort zone with having no contact with parishioners and no one at his daily Mass. He truly stepped up to shepherd the parish flock through the many challenges and difficulties. He found new ways to connect with parishioners even if they were unable to come to church.
He didn't hesitate to bless gallons of holy water for people to use at home when the fount was emptied. He blessed and exorcised medals for those seeking Marian consecration. He was willing to help in any way to bring parishioners closer to Christ. Quite simply, he continued to be our priest and to make Christ present to us.