‘Faith was the driving force of his whole life’ | National Catholic Registry

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Father John Horgan, known to Eternal Word Television Network audiences as an expert on saints and angels, died Wednesday in Vancouver, British Columbia.

A member of EWTN Canada’s Board of Governors, Father Horgan, 63, was the longtime pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Vancouver. He was battling stomach cancer.

Beginning in the 1990s, EWTN audiences became familiar with Father Horgan through his many appearances on the network’s television and radio programs. He has appeared several times with Mother Angelica and on various shows, including EWTN live with Jesuit Father Mitch Pacwa. He has also hosted a number of EWTN series including Saints of today and Angels of God.

In 2016, Father Horgan was one of the concelebrants at Mother Angelica’s funeral mass in Hanceville, Alabama. At the time, it was his voice that listeners heard daily on EWTN as they read the Psalms and scripture verses.

Michael Warsaw, Chairman of the Board and Managing Director of EWTN Global Catholic Network, remembered Father Horgan as “a longtime friend of EWTN” and “a good and faithful priest who loved the Church and devoted his significant intellectual gifts to his work in the field of moral theology and in promoting the testimony of the saints.

“I remember visiting him at his parish in Vancouver and seeing the stained glass windows he personally designed and learning about the stories of the saints depicted in each one,” Warsaw said. “But above all, it was clear to me that Father Horgan loved being a pastor.”

His winning smile and sense of joy also attested to this fact as well as his great love for saints and angels.

Father Carlos Martins of the Companions of the Cross, an apostolic life society based in Ontario, Canada, himself an international relics expert and director of “Treasures of the Church,” was Father Horgan’s best friend.

“Father Horgan was enamored with saints and had an encyclopedic knowledge of their attributes,” Father Martins told the Register. “His ability to analyze and explain the work of God in each saint was unparalleled. His ability to recall not only given details about a saint, but to unravel the meaning of what it meant in his life and what the purposes and purposes of God were, left you awestruck. He possessed the rationality of a philosopher, the heart of an artist, the language of a poet and the storytelling ability of a spellbinding sage.

He continued, “He could unravel the divine artistry in each saint in a fascinating way, explaining how God worked out his purposes in each saint with the precision of a watchmaker and with the enthusiasm of someone who has just discovered one of the secrets of the universe. »

The two priests traveled together to shrines in Europe. Father Martins recalls: “Meeting a new shrine, he was like a child at Christmas.”

Father Martins well remembers his friend as “an expert in the field of the saints, their relics and the priesthood in general. He was my mentor. The only reason I am who I am is because I met him.

Father Hogan was vice-postulator of the cause of Marie Deluil-Martiny, foundress of the Daughters of the Heart of Jesus. According to Father Martins, he saved the cause from oblivion after it was stalled by resolving two objections.

“His own theology was completely in line with the Sacred Heart,” Fr. Martins said. “He did his thesis in theology on the Sacred Heart. He was a kind of hero formed by the Lord to resuscitate an apostle of the Sacred Heart.

The cause started again and led to the beatification of a nun by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1989.

Father Horgan himself was ordained in Rome by Pope John Paul II on the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. At the age of 26, he began serving in the Archdiocese of Vancouver, where he served as pastor of three parishes. He was also a chaplain for the lawyers’ and doctors’ guilds in Vancouver hospitals, for the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, the Musqueam Indian Band and a chaplain in Vancouver hospitals. At this time, he also received, in Rome, a license in sacred theology focusing on medical ethics and health care.

“He was a moral theologian, a specialist in morality in this area,” Fr. Martins explained. “His work was heroic and tireless, pioneering work, caring for people with AIDS.”

John Horgan was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and attended Harvard University, where he majored in religious studies, graduated magna cum laude. He then left to study for the priesthood at the Angelicum in Rome. It was there that he volunteered to serve in Vancouver. Later, he was also to graduate magna cum laude of the Studium of the Holy See of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Vatican’s special training course for those engaged in the process of canonization. He was subsequently called upon to investigate and advise on many holiness causes. He was also a consultant on the film The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

Warsaw also noted that Father Hogan was a bestselling author for EWTN Publishing. His book His angels by our side: Understanding their power in our souls and in the world is perennially popular. His book is also available in DVD set. He himself loved to read – his personal library contained more than 14,000 books.

“As an angelologist, he was one of the world’s experts on angels, having written perhaps the greatest book on angels in English,” Fr Martins said. “He had one of the greatest intellects with which God had ever blessed a single man, surpassed only by the size of his heart and the love that flowed from it.”

This intellect and love was present at the Casa Maria Retreat Center in Irondale, Alabama, near the EWTN campus, where he served as a regular retreat master. There, Mother Louise Marie said that the Sisters Servants of the Eternal Word first met Father Horgan in the mid-1990s when he was visiting EWTN. “He quickly became a dear friend to the community and preached retreats at Casa Maria almost every year for 20 years,” she told the Register.

“He was a big favorite among our retreatants from all walks of life,” added Mother Louise Marie. She recalled how “a rather worldly businessman said, after hearing Father’s sermon, ‘I don’t understand how anyone can be so funny and so smart and so pious at the same time,’ aptly identifying three of Father’s most notable traits: his devotion, his intelligence and his humor.

Mother Louise Marie explained that the sisters “benefited as much as anyone from his teaching during the retreats and also from the possibility of communing with him. Whenever he came there was always time for an evening visit with the sisters, during which he passed around relics for our veneration, regaled us with stories of saints and drank a seemingly endless supply of tea. !

In 2007, the sisters felt “extremely privileged” to have Father Horgan as chaplain during a pilgrimage to Rome. “His immense knowledge, coupled with such great dedication, made for an unforgettable experience,” said Mother Louise Marie.

He also preached the sisters’ community retreat in 2019, telling them his goal was to help them deepen their prayer life and renew their joy in consecrated life.

She explained, “It highlights another remarkable characteristic of Father John Horgan, which was his love for religious life. He recognized and appreciated its value and did everything to support it, both for us and for many other communities and consecrated persons.

Father Martins said, “I can testify to his personal holiness,” adding, “However, first and foremost, Father Horgan was a priest of Jesus Christ. From an early age, he wanted nothing more than to be one of Christ’s priests. “I had an early calling,” he once told me. He lived his priestly identity with generosity and fervor, making himself available to all whenever the need arose.

Mother Louise Marie told the Register: “It is rare to know someone so brilliant, but so courteous; so cheerful and humorous, yet still charitable; and whose faith has been the driving force of his whole life. He once told me that he had lost a good part of his sight because of his hours of study, but that he did not regret it, because it had enabled him to serve the Church. He certainly did, placing his many gifts entirely at the disposal of his Lord. We will miss him dearly, but we pray that he will rejoice in the company of the saints he loved so much.

Rightly, Father Horgan said once, “When we are in heaven, we will understand God’s plan so perfectly that we will look back on our lives and on the lives of all who have ever lived and say, ‘The way you did things was everything. quite right.’ The angels see perfection, and we, through them, come to see more clearly the perfection of God’s plan. [The angels can help us pray the words with faith]’I may not understand why or how now, but when I see you face to face, I believe you will answer all my questions, and I will have peace.’

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