Dr. Knight: As a person of Irish decent, it is an honor to interview you on St. Patrick’s Day (or close to it). Thank you for affording your time to so many of us in the parish. It will be published in Profiles in Catholicism
Your ministry has been primarily in the area of Chaplain and minister to the sick and dying. Could you tell us why you chose this ministry or really that Christ chose you?
Father Moriarity: I began the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Clinical Pastoral Program to become a hospital Chaplain. I worked to develop a deeper respect for the different stages of life through the integration of psychology and theology. I finished the four-unit program in January of l996. I sought and received accreditation. As a chaplain I explored the varied patient experiences associated with different hospital units. It is both a privilege and honor to share in the joy of birth, in the preparation for death and in the hope and anxiety in between.
Dr. Knight: How did you receive your call to be a priest? How has this call changed over time?
Father Moriarity: My call to the priesthood developed gradually. I grew up on the South Shore of Chicago where my family belonged to St. Philip Neri parish. My father worked as a janitor at the Church. As a result, I came to know and admire the priests. I looked to the priests to bring God into everyday life, to name the “God experience’ of what the person was going through. Priesthood was no stranger in my life and my family.
I saw and heard priests at their best and yes at their weakest moments. When I was ordained a priest I saw myself as a Priest Becoming. I am deeply grateful for the many people in my life from family to priests to laity who have guided me by their words and example to allow the grace and mercy and love of Jesus into my life.
Dr. Knight: How about an easy question: What is your favorite music?
Father Moriarity: I would rather say that I am more interested in Irish storytelling and music. My Father was a storyteller of Irish emotions especially in the hard life many had.
As a young boy I would hide on the stairs as my Mom and Dad would invite cousins and friends to the house. They would send us to our rooms. But it is from them that I heard my Dad and others tell the stories of joy and sadness and how people overcame them. I believe his witness guided me in listening to the gospels stories of Jesus.
Dr. Knight: How does your family influence your ministry?
Father Moriarity: I come from a very traditional Irish family. I am the oldest of 3. My brother was a South side police officer and my sister worked as a nurse. I am an uncle to 5 nieces and 2 nephews. I am also a great uncle. I spend time with them as we get to know each other in a deeper and more adult way.
Dr. Knight: You seem to have a great grasp of social media. Do you think/feel that the use of social media in our parishes can assist people to think about knowing/loving/serving God?
Father Moriarity: In some ways, social media has assisted us in redefining who we are as God’s people. It is another way to understand his universe. I share with people, personally, good sites I have found for contemplation and meditation. Social media has assisted me in knowing Christ and His people in a broader and more expansive way.
Dr. Knight: The Catholic Church has changed over time. Our Pope has a wonderful vision of inclusion. What issues are predominantly on your mind and heart?
Father Moriarity: What I like best about my ministry is the opportunity to come to know so many wonderful people. They are searching for God in their lives as I am. I keep in touch with many and enjoy getting to know them at another level and time.
I wonder how to pass on the Catholic tradition. I pray that the Church will have the courage to embrace change without changing the power and mystery of the sacraments. I think we could ask members of the community to give homilies – married, single, female, male, young and old. I think the joy and sorrow of the community embedded in Christ and His Church is expressed by all believers.
Our Pope has infused my ministry and work with joy, hope and energy.
Dr. Knight: Who is your favorite saint and why?
Father Moriarity: I would begin with Pope John the 23. We were in the seminary when he called for the Renewal of the Church with the call for Vatican Council 2. I was ordained in 1966 as we were invited to bring the many messages of the documents to our people. I prayed a lot to Pope John to guide me in this new and difficult time for we were formed in the previous council.
I have grown by the many people both priests @ religious women, laymen@ women who day by day have both loved and forgave and challenged me to better focus on the love of Christ. A woman who recently died in our parish said these important words to me and others:
With my limited human imagination I have no ability to understand what God has in store for me when I die but I am certain of this that God is truly Love and I hope to pass this on to people . This is the meaning of sainthood.
Dr. Knight: What do you think is the biggest challenge for our Church today?
Father Moriarity: I believe in the area of social media that we as a church/parish should be able to find ways in which the faith stories of women and men young and old could be shared in the many media devices as well as at our services and gatherings.
Dr. Knight: You seem to have a wonderful network of friends. How do they assist you in your ministry?
Father Moriarity: My ministry is a two-way street, I offer others help and they offer me theirs. It really works out well. I’ve had a great deal of experience in hospital ministry and people have told me how the words I helped them with have been helpful in their ministry.