The following was posted on Father John Malloy’s blog on Thurs., March 28 by Gibbons Cooney, Father Malloy’s secretary at Saints Peter and Paul Church.
Our dear Father Malloy has fought his last fight. He went home to the Lord early on Wednesday morning (Ed note: March 27) . Readers of this blog know that he had been suffering from congestive heart failure as well as a number of other ailments natural to a man of 91. Father’s bearing of his condition was a marvelous thing to see. He was perfectly lucid right to the last, and more than once he said he was ready to go. He never complained and was amazingly cheerful. After a conversation with his doctor he agreed to go on a respirator for a few days to see if that would help his condition, after which they would take him off, and let his body take its course. He was taken off the respirator Tuesday morning, and almost immediately began to grow weaker.
I saw him on Tuesday night, and he was quite weak physically, but not spiritually. The nurse had something nice to say to him about how easy he was to work with, and I said “Boy, Father, see what a great patient you are!” He smiled and replied with good natured sarcasm, which was his standard response to when anyone gave him a compliment: “Yeah, sure!” He passed away about 12 hours later.
Father Malloy came to us as pastor of Saints Peter and Paul in 2001. At that time he was 79 years old. It struck some of us as a little odd that a 79-year-old would be appointed to lead one of the busiest parishes in San Francisco. Well. Little did we know!
One of his first acts as pastor was to reinstitute a weekly Holy Hour. During his pastorate the entire interior of the church was refurbished top to bottom. It was cleaned and repainted. Beautiful new carpet was installed. The wood floors were refinished, and because all that beauty needed to be seen, new lights were installed. That revealed details that had not been seen for years, and even old timers were amazed. All this while celebrating weddings, baptisms, and masses beyond count.
I think it is fair to say that what Father Malloy became best known for to the wider world was his uncompromising stand against the horrific epidemic of legalized abortion and against the redefinition of marriage. Under his pastorate, Saints Peter and Paul became the pro-life and pro-family center of the Catholic Church in San Francisco, the birthplace of the Defense of Marriage movement, and the home parish of the Walk for Life West Coast. Father Malloy did not hesitate to call out Catholic politicians by name when their actions violated the most basic teachings of the Catholic faith.
Dolores Meehan tells the story of creating the March in Defense of Marriage. Back in 2004, when Gavin Newsom’s illegally started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Dolores and others wanted to create a rally to show that there were San Franciscans opposed to this. She sought the advice of Bill May, president of Catholics for the Common Good, asking “but where can I find a church that will support it?” Bill said “Well, there’s this one priest at Saints Peter and Paul…” The rest is history. When Dolores visited Father Malloy to ask him about holding a Mass and rally in defense of marriage, she didn’t get a “well, maybe…” or an “I don’t know…” or a “well, let me think about it…” As Dolo tells it, Father Malloy, with Mimi the cat on his desk, just started flipping through his desk calendar looking for a date, and said “I don’t care if I go to jail!” Father Malloy did not follow his flock. He led it.
The response to that April, 2004 rally gave Eva and Dolores and Kelly and Lisa and all the others the courage to create the Walk for Life West Coast in 2005. In that year, Father Malloy became the chaplain of the Walk for Life West Coast, a position he retained until his death. In that year he received the first annual St. Gianna Molla Award for pro-life heroism. Because no matter what, we knew Father Malloy had our back. And from those beginnings, the Walk for Life is now the second largest pro-life event in the country. Someone once told me that Deacon Jeff Burns, the historian of the archdiocese of San Francisco, was asked what was the most significant expression of Catholicism in San Francisco in recent times. He answered “It’s the Walk for Life West Coast.”
Father Malloy eventually became known all over the country for his sermons and writings in defense of the right to life and marriage, with praise and threats to prove it. But despite his powerful stands, almost everyone who met him, even those who disagreed, found in Father John a friend. With my own eyes I have seen people come into the rectory absolutely furious, and walk out a few minutes later with the words “Huh. He’s a nice guy.” When I think of Father Malloy I think of the Blessed John Paul II who was once addressing a group of young people about the evil of abortion. They told him “Why do say this to us? You know we don’t agree.” The Holy Father simply said “I love you too much to lie to you.” That was Father John’s attitude as well.
Most of us will have heard of Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Many of us will be familiar with his humble tombstone in that Cathedral, on which is written “If you seek his monument, look about you.” The whole cathedral was his monument. But while it is right and proper to see the buildings of a great architect as his monument, the monument of a Priest of God is different. The monument of a priest of God is the people he has inspired to follow Jesus Christ, to imitate Jesus Christ, and to bring others to Jesus Christ.
For as St. Peter himself tells us, the Church is made of living stones. The students he has taught and inspired, that is Father John’s monument. The people he brought into the faith, that is Fr. John’s monument. The young men and women whom he has inspired to the religious life, that is Father John’s monument. And the 50,000 people who in January peacefully, joyfully, yet firmly marched through downtown San Francisco for the littlest among us, that is Father John’s monument.
Father, may we be worthy of the sacrifices you made for us. May we continue to fight firmly and with charity, as you taught us, for life and the family. And above all, may we fulfill your dearest wish for us, to follow Jesus Christ and to live lives that will allow us to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Father, we pray that you watch over us from heaven just as you always did on earth.
Funeral services for Father Malloy were held on April 1 at Saints Peter and Paul Church, San Francisco.