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"At the End of My Life What Would I Want to Give God"

"At the End of My Life What Would I Want to Give God"

Father John Joseph Halloran is a retired priest living in Santa Clara. He presently helps at parishes as well as visiting the sick and dying in the Bay Area.

Q. What made you decide to become a priest?

A. It started with thinking about it in high school because of the gratitude I had to God for my family and faith. The thoughts came that we have a certain number of years to live and at the end of my life what would I want to give God.

I often thought of careers in engineering and other fields. But in the end of my life -- not in a morbid way -- what would be the most satisfying life. It came to me that the most satisfying life would be the service of God as a priest.

After consulting priests, I decided to enter the seminary after high school. Entering the Mater Dolorosa Seminary in Hillsdale, Illinois in 1940, I was ordained in Chicago in 1948. Most of my priesthood has been as diocesan priest. I've been a priest for 53 years. The 53 years of priesthood have been happy ones.

Q. What was the toughest time you had as a priest?

A. The adjustment from teaching high school and college students in America to teaching 4th grade and up elementary students in Australia was tough.

I didn't make the adjustment too well (laugh). It was a humbling experience. I didn't feel I was teacher of the year. The needed to prepare in high school and college is in a specialized subject, but in the 4th grade the need is to do the whole nine yards -- reading, writing, etc. To take the fourth grade students though six to eight subjects a day and try to keep them from getting distracted is tough. I was greatly helped by the Irish Christian Brothers who showed me how to adjust to the English model of teaching. There are differences between the American model and English model. One difference is that from the fourth grade on boys must be taught by man -- that is by a priest or brother.

Q. What did you do after your work in schools?

A. From 1962 to 1965, I worked with the Propagation of the Faith parish appeals and also in vocational guidance work. After which, I did mostly parish work in Hawaii until I retired in 1977.The work in Hawaii parishes was most satisfying because I saw so many ethnic groups -- Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos, etc. -- of different backgrounds working together as the one body of Christ in one parish.

Q. Why did you decide to retire in the Bay Area?

A. I have a brother and other family in the area. And I always wanted to be in a place where there is a need. Here there are many opportunities to be of help. On my elderly and sick visits, I've seen how the Lord gives so many people quiet peace at the moment they are called from this life. This happens over and over, again. It helps to know that your presence helps them with the peace of the Lord at the end.

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