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Reverend John McCarthy
Around the World
by Rail and Sail

Father McCarthy, (or Jack, John, Mac or Father Mac depending on how well you know him and when you met) was born in Cleveland March 18, 1929 and grew up an only child in Cleveland Heights.

He graduated from Gesu Grade School in 1943 and then attended St. Ignatius High School. At age 16, his 3rd year in High School, he went into the Seminary to follow a vocation that has now spanned forty-six years. He enrolled in St. Gregory's Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Drawing of Reverend John McCarthy of St Philomena Church

Of course being in the Seminary did not preclude Fr. Mac from having to work summers. His very favorite summer job was the year he got to be an ICE MAN! The war was not quite over and people still had their iceboxes. Not only did little Jackie get to deliver ice, (a welcome and much needed summertime commodity), but he had his own truck and at 16 years old, his very own route! It was a Union job, so there was good pay, too. It didn't get much better than that.

Whenever jobs were hard to find in the summer, the seminarians were guaranteed jobs in the Catholic cemeteries. Father Mac, along with his friends from the Seminary, worked at Calvary Cemetery.

After four years at St. Gregory's he transferred to the Seminary in Cleveland for three years and finally to St. Francis Seminary in Pennsylvania for three years. He was ordained with three others in Martins Ferry, Ohio in 1955.

His first assignment was in Athens, Ohio, then on to Buchtel, Mingo Junction, Hopedale and Ironton. Finally in 1968 Father McCarthy was transferred to St. Philomena's in East Cleveland, Ohio and he has been there ever since. (That's 33 years!!!)

Father Mac has never been one to let time slip idly by. He went to Case Western Reserve to receive his Masters and PhD in History. He taught English and Theology at the High School level. He also taught at Dyke College, Case Western Reserve University, Cuyahoga Community College, East, and Ursuline College, all in the role of Adjunct-Professor.

During Fr. Mac's first year in the Priesthood, television became a part of his life. Although there was television a little earlier, it was not common and certainly not part of Seminary life. The Diocese produced a half hour television show every Sunday called, "The Greatest of These" based on the Scripture passage: "So faith, hope, love abide, these 3; but the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor. 13:13.10). Father Mac was integrally a part of this show and was also the Associate Editor of the Diocesan Paper, The Steubenville Register.

Father spent all of 1971 in England working on research for his degree. Of course, while there, he also worked in three Catholic parishes as well as taking a little time to visit Ireland, Scotland and Paris.

An avid traveler, he spent the summer of 1959 in Italy on his first European trip. He traveled in a four motor airplane since jets were just coming into being. He has since seen most of the United States and Canada, has taken the Eurail through Scandinavia and a train trip to Moscow! He was behind the Iron Curtain before it came down. He's traveled on the QE II a number of times and been through the Panama Canal three times.

He has taken two trips around the world and immortalized those trips in his book, Around The World By Rail and Sail. Hong Kong, Japan, Rio de Janeiro, and The Suez Canal - he's seen them all. He's seen Victoria Falls In South Africa and watched an eclipse of the sun from a ship in the center of the South Pacific. He's seen and savored some very precious sights.

He learned a lot on these trips and sometimes he just re-enforced beliefs he already had. For example, the notion that people are really all the same, wherever you are. The only difference is the circumstances they live in.

A lot of things have changed since those Pre-Vatican II days when John McCarthy entered the Seminary. But he would do it all again without hesitation. The decisions he makes in his life are all based on the teachings and philosophy of the Catholic Church. He is a stalwart believer in his faith and the Catholic world he grew up in.

One could say he is not especially enamored with all things modern and new. He doesn't even consider the Women's Movement to be new. His mother, who was born in the 1891 bought and paid for a house in 1920 with her own money that she had worked for and saved. She didn't need a "movement" to tell her what to do - she just did it.

He believes in the virtues and principles of his parent's home. Honesty. Integrity. Hard work. These are the things they taught him and these are the things he applies to his daily life.

Make no mistake, he is by no means afraid of the new or different (he has been using a computer since the very beginning), but he finds reassurance in the ways of the past and turmoil in the present.

In addition to being an avid reader, he is an accomplished author as well. Along with his book chronicling his trips around the world, he has written the history of St. Philomena Church, the history of a parish in England, numerous pamphlets on religious topics, the biography of Adrian and a book on the future of public transit in Cleveland.

He also says Mass and hears confessions at St. Philomena every week. And somewhere in there he finds the time for membership in the Friends of the Cleveland Library and, his favorite, The Northern Ohio Railroad Museum. He has traveled the rails around the world and is enamored with the system that was and could be Cleveland's.

Father Mac still cannot understand our "terrible obsession with the automobile" when inner-urban trains and commuter rails would answer so many current problems. He believes it would create jobs, bring the steel industry back and make commuting a joy not a chore. He has attempted to collect schematics and plans for every subway he has ever ridden on!

Father Mac is a people-person. He loves to talk to people, listen to their stories and tell part of his. But he does leave you feeling that he hasn't even scratched the surface of his life story, and he's busy making plans for the rest of the story. He is thinking about the transit system, planning his next book, contemplating his next adventure, talking to everyone who walks by and generally enjoying his life.

Profiled by Debbie Hanson

Congratulations to Father Mac who celebrated 50 years as a priest on May 29, 2005.

Father Mac signing copies of his book at his 50th anniversary celebration

Father Mac signing copies of his book at his 50th anniversary celebration

harp players at John Mccarthy 50th

The long line of well-wishers were serenaded by beautiful live music

Father Mac signs another copy of his book

Father Mac signs another copy of his book

Crowds at Father Mac's 50th

Part of the crowd at the celebration

Parishioners with Father Mike (Christ the King) and Father Kleinweber (St Philomena)

Parishioners with Father Mike (Christ the King) and Father Kleinweber (St Philomena) at the celebration

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Father John McCarthy

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