Take 5 with Father: a disciple loves
HE IS: Father Jack McKone, pastor of St. John the Apostle Parish in North Richland Hills since August 1, 2017.
GROWING UP: The oldest of ten, he and his siblings attended St. Rita Catholic School and Nolan Catholic High School. His social life revolved around church activities. “I didn’t know anybody that wasn’t a member of St. Rita’s, and so I thought the world was Catholic.”
PRIEST IN THE MAKING: As children, he and his brother would put on bathrobes, grab their St. Joseph Missals, and play Mass as children.
WORKING FOR A LIVING: From 1970 until retirement in 2000, McKone worked in the parts and services department of local auto dealerships.
HOBBIES: A self-described “hangar rat,” McKone is a licensed pilot and has served as a navigator on a vintage WWII B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber. He’s also a photographer and has collected model trains.
MISSION: A visit to his brother, a lay missionary in Guatemala, led McKone to spend a year and a half in Guatemala after his retirement. He helped the Carmelite Sisters, who were the bishop’s representatives in 28 Mayan villages and a Catholic school.
“It was a very simple life; it was a very joyful experience; physically it was very hard,” he said, recalling walks up and down the mountains at 8,000 feet of altitude and unheated buildings. He watched a volcano spew lava while eating breakfast.
SCHOOLED: In 2002, he entered Assumption Seminary in San Antonio. He had a bit of trepidation because he’d been out of school for more than 30 years, but his habit of “don’t put off anything — start an assignment right away” served him well.
In the evenings, he walked the Hispanic neighborhood that surrounded the school and befriended many families, who plied him with dinner invitations.
ORDAINED: January 5, 2008, at St. Patrick Cathedral.
PARISH LIFE: Fr. McKone has served at St. Matthew Parish in Arlington; the cluster of Holy Family of Nazareth Parish in Vernon, St. Mary Parish in Quanah, and St. Joseph Parish in Crowell; and Sacred Heart in Wichita Falls.
“I’ve always found a community that I could love and become a part of. Every assignment I’ve had has been a good one.”
BEST PART OF BEING A PRIEST: “Watching and being a part of the struggles of the faithful to be the best people possible they can, and knowing how hard they are working at it. You see God’s grace working in them, in the day-to-day things. We have a privileged place to see God’s work.”
NOT SO GOOD: “That desk. You can have it.”
UNIVERSAL CALL: There’s not a different saintliness for priests than there is for any other…. We’re all called to be holy and good.”
DISCIPLESHIP: “A good citizen follows the rules, but a disciple loves. It’s a very different motivation. Doing the right thing for the love of God brings a joy that is unexpected,” even if he’s called at night for a hospital visit.
SMART START: “Catholic education is one of the most essential, important ministries within the Church… It is a big sacrifice, but I think it’s our best opportunity for vocations, for teaching young men and women what they are going to need to get through life…. Every Catholic must support the Catholic schools whether they have children or not.”
RECONCILED: ”Confession is spiritual warfare. It’s where you really see grace work. God’s grace is almost concrete. You can see it working. It’s wonderful.”
ESSENTIAL MAINTENANCE: Even on the busiest of days, “you’ve to hang onto your prayer life. It’s a discipline that you build.”
SPECIAL SAINT: Blessed Father Stanley Rother, a martyr for the faith who served in the same region of Guatemala, for his example of pastoring and perseverance.
FINAL THOUGHT: “God’s delight is forgiving His children. You cannot get too far away from Him to be forgiven. Don’t ever doubt His power to forgive and forget our sins. It is His joy, His delight.”