Tribute to Fr. Jack
Tony Herreth, State Deputy
Father Jack was an inspiration to everyone he met. I first met Father Jack as the Diocesan Deputy of Galveston/Houston in 2000. In 2001, I was elected President of the Galveston/Houston Chapter and appointed Father Jack as Chapter Chaplain, a title he has held for the past 11 years. It was in that first year that I invited all Grand Knights in the diocese to an award ceremony at a Chapter meeting. Most of these councils were not members of the chapter, but I knew that once they heard the passionate tone of Father Jack, they too would join the Chapter. And that they did. The Chapter membership doubled overnight.
Father Jack was the greatest recruiter for the Knights of Columbus. Whenever he spoke, people listened. During his talks, he would close his eyes and let the Holy Spirit take over. The passion in his voice would send chills in my body. His speeches would always end as he associated the Knights of Columbus dedication to our Lord. He was always astounded at how these men they call Knights put their Lord Jesus Christ first by their personal witness.
Father Jack was independent. He never asked anything of anyone which he could not do himself. As Associate State Chaplain under then State Deputy Leo Hanus, Father Jack would drive to meetings in locations which were 3 to 5 hours away. I told him that in the future someone from the Houston area could take him. He declined my offer saying that the quiet time while driving gave him a chance to meditate.
Father Jack was in demand. He held the position of Chaplain for several KC units, and several of these positions he held simultaneously.
• Chaplain at St Thomas Aquinas Council 7382,
• Chaplain at University of St Thomas Council 13940,
• Chaplain at Galveston/Houston Chapter since 2001,
• District Friar for Fourth Degree District 1 of the Guadalupe Province,
• Associate Friar for Fourth Degree Assembly 2243 in Sugar Land
• Associate State Chaplain of the Texas State Council 2004-2006 and 2010-2012,
• Father Prior for Columbian Squires Circle at St Thomas Aquinas (KC boys 10-18 years old).
To my knowledge, Father Jack had one pet peeve: Start those meetings on time! If I heard that once, I heard it a thousand times. The Knights are notorious for starting their meetings on KC time. This is usually 10 to 20 minutes late. Father Jack always said, “If you start the meeting on time and have a prepared agenda, the membership will come back.
Father Jack loved the young adults. He always told me how the students at the UST College Council were so full of energy and fresh ideas which made him feel younger. He would attend the Supreme Council College Conference in New Haven every September and come back with stories of the promise and hope of our future leaders. Father Jack admired the Squires Counselors for taking their time to mentor the Columbian Squires to become responsible citizens.
Father Jack put everyone else first. He was so appreciative of the good deeds from others. To this day he would talk about Leo and Lorraine Hanus going to the funeral of his sister Mary in Rochester NY. And the year before that how a group from Texas attended his 50th year of Ordination in New York. Father Jack would speak of the warmth, affection, and BIG hugs he enjoyed from some of the ladies. He would thank the hotel staff for those comfortable beds. And he talked about those Knights who gave of their time to take him to meetings and other events during the last year since his automobile accident. And he would speak of his friend Al, who would help him with correspondence and other odd jobs.
Father Jack was the Energizer Bunny. During the past two years as Associate State Chaplain, one of the State Officers from Houston would take Fr Jack to the State meetings. The larger meetings were meant to inspire the State leadership to go back to their councils and inspire the local leadership. Everytime, Father Jack would comment to his driver how that must have been the BEST meeting ever held. Everyone seemed to be energized. I know that he energized me many times over the years.
Father Jack was a patriotic Sir Knight. He not only attended turnouts to concelebrate Mass, but he was part of the team that exemplified the new Sir Knights.
Father Jack loved the Venerable Father Michael Joseph McGivney. He always spoke of Father McGivney like he knew him personally. He would tell us of Fr McGivney’s childhood, his pastoral years, his trials and tribulations. A year ago, Father Jack was in a terrible accident that put him in the hospital for a couple of months. As he could not move in his car, he asked for Father McGivney’s intercession. Father Jack told us that a young man helped him out of the car to the curbside. Prior to getting into the ambulance, Father asked to thank the man who helped him to the curb, but no one had seen this person. Father Jack believes it was Father McGivney’s hand who led him to safety.
Father Jack loved his family. He would often talk of his sisters, and of his nephews, nieces, and their children. He was so proud of all of them.
So you can see that the Knights will miss the inspiration from this great and humble servant. I ask you now to pray for the intercession of the venerable Father Michael McGivney:
“ God, our Father, protector of the poor and defender of the widow and orphan, you called your priest, Father Michael J. McGivney, to be an apostle of Christian family life and to lead the young to the generous service of their neighbor. Through the example of his life and virtue may we follow your Son, Jesus Christ, more closely, fulfilling his commandment of charity and building up his Body which is the Church. Let the inspiration of your servant prompt us to greater confidence in your love so that we may continue his work of caring for the needy and the outcast. We humbly ask that you glorify your servant Father Michael J. McGivney on earth according to the design of your holy will. Through his intercession, grant the favor I now present: bless Fr. Jack Whitley, have Fr. McGivney meet this loyal Knight of Columbus at the gates of Heaven and guide him to the presence of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Through Christ our Lord, Amen
Our Father * Hail Mary * Glory Be To The Father
I love you, my friend.