Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, an Australian community, in a worldwide religious congregation.
Jesus loved with a human heart: with him we proclaim his love to the world.
We work to discover through advocacy, healing and reconciliation, God's presence in our world.
We are to be on earth the heart of God. God has no other heart but ours.
- Published: Monday, 01 July 2019 22:16
IN MEMORIAM, GREG McCANN MSC, PHOTOS AND STORIES
Requiem Mass was celebrated at Kensington Monastery on Thursday April 27th, followed by burial at St Mary's Towers, Douglas Park. For memories, we reprint some of the stories told by his nephew, Greg, on the occasion of Uncle Greg's 100th birthday celebration in 2017,
One Hundred years ago on April 18th 1917, at Sydney Women's Hospital, twins were born to Jim McCann and Catherine McCann. Little did I know at that time how much impact that would have on my life!!! It was a fairly smooth birth with Uncle Greg deciding to come out first and my Dad, Neil, come out 10 minutes later. But who'd know?...they were identical twins!
The Family had actually come from the country-side and lived at 'HILLVIEW' a sheep / wheat farm at a place called Begeribong just outside of Forbes.
In 1922 their father, Jim died, probably of pneumonia, and his wife, Catherine (known as Kate) was left with her six children Molly, Frank, Greg, Neil, Jim and Phyllis. Life on the farm was difficult for her and she left the country-side with her Family and moved to the city in the mid-1920's – just at the beginning of the Great Depression. She opened a lollie shop in Stanmore and the Family settled into life in the city. Uncle Greg and my Dad, Neil, must have been very responsible young people because they both left school early to help their Mum. Uncle Greg had a raptured appendix when he was about 14 years old and he nearly died. He still has the scars of the operation. He'll show them to you if you ask him!!!! (Don't ask!!)
During this time the Family were struggling to make ends meet and I admire my dear Nana McCann. She must have been an amazing woman i.e. Raising all those children on her own with very little support. They were a Family of Faith and very much a part of the local church community. Uncle Greg and Dad were alter boys and Auntie Molly (the eldest sibling) used to say she could tell the difference between the twins when they were kneeling at the alter with their backs to the congregation because their ears were at a different level! The twins had great fun trying to trick their Mother ...sometimes they would swap their names but Nana McCann would eventually say, "Stop that! I know who's who!!" Uncle Greg and dad were in the local Catholic tennis club and also active members of the debating society and the Catholic Evidence Guild but Uncle Greg will have more to say about that soon. Eventually three of them entered religious life Auntie Molly and Auntie Phyllis joined the Josephite Sisters and Uncle Greg became an MSC. ..but I digress.....
So now we come to the war times! That's the Second World War! When I'm talking to Uncle Greg and he's telling me some stories, I often ask, "Was that the First World War or the Second World War?"Anyway, he was in the army with my Dad, Neil, and they were both in the transport section delivering goods and chattels and also personnel around eastern Australia. It was there that Uncle Greg was arrested. You should ask him about that!! After his time in the army he was accepted to join the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. His first appointment was to Chevalier College as he was asked to be the main cook in 1946 and believe it or not, while he was the first MSC cook, I was actually, the last MSC to be the main cook at Chevalier College in 1968 when it was handed over to a more 'professional' group'. There must have been something about my food that they didn't like!!!
He had done his stint as cook at Chevalier and Kensington and by constantly asking the Provincial if he could to go to the missions, he finally got there and began teaching at Sideia, in the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea. That was in the early 1950's. He went to the Trobriand Islands in 1958 and stayed there until 1974. In 1975 he went to Hagita High School in Milne Bay, PNG and taught for a couple of years and then, in 1977, he went to Japan. I don't know what happened there (maybe he'll tell you about that!) but his life began to change. In 1980 he entered St. Paul's Late Vocation Seminary and in 1983 he was ordained a priest. He went back to Hagita for a while; he went to Fiji and Kirribati and eventually became the priest in charge of Douglas Park Parish. In 1997 he was appointed to the Provincial house at Coogee. After that he semi-retired to the Monastery here at Kensington and he is now at St. Joseph's Nursing Home for Religious. Following Uncle's footsteps, I'll probably end up there in the near future!!! (and he'll be looking after me the way he's going!!!).
I'd like to end with a couple of quick anecdotes – if I may. My memories of Uncle Greg...he gave me as a gift a smallish hand -made canoe from the Trobriand Islands and he and my Father spent most of the night putting it together. I was definitely the king of the kids!! I took it to Cronulla beach and played with this fantastic canoe – outrigger and all. I had special status with my life-saver friends after that!! On another occasion, I remember Dad put on a special 'Mission Night' at our house to raise money for Uncle's Mission on the Trobriand Islands. Dad was well known around Cronulla and many people would come to our house and talk to Uncle Greg and watch his slides of the missions. I remember this night...... Uncle Greg answered the front door bell and this woman came in and proclaimed..."What a wonderful idea Mr. McCann (my Dad) getting dressed up as a priest! Then Uncle Greg explained that HE was actually, Mr. McCann's twin - the Missionary from PNG.
One Christmas Uncle Greg was staying with us and we were all on the patio having a few Christmas drinks with the neighbours. My mother got up, went over to Uncle Greg, gave him a big kiss and said, " I won't be long Darling I'll just go inside and check the roast." "Yes, Gwen," came the reply and then Mum realised that she'd kissed Uncle Greg much to her embarrassment and much to our amusement. Dad and Uncle Greg had a kind of mental telepathy. They would be sitting at the table or in the lounge room and out of the blue one would say OK and they go off and do something!!
I can honestly say that I have never, ever, heard him say a derogatory word about anyone. May God continue to bless him, keep him close to His Heart and continue to give him Peace. He will always be to us an example of a true Missionary of the Sacred Heart.