Aug. 17-30, 2006
Dedicated to the Holy Spirit
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
Father McKay remembered for years of conscientious service
Father Robert McKay passed away on July 30. He was retired and living at the Loretto Geriatric Center in Syracuse. He was 88 years old. His nieces and nephews survive him.
A Mass of Christian Burial was held at St. Patrick’s Church in Syracuse on Aug. 3. Msgr. Robert Davern delivered the homily during the Mass with Bishop Thomas Costello as the principal celebrant. A native of Syracuse, Father McKay attended St. Patrick’s Elementary School and graduated from St. Patrick’s High School. An Army veteran of World War II, Father McKay served in the African and Italian Campaigns. “He put his life on the line for us Americans,” said Msgr. Davern during the homily. After serving in the military, Father McKay attended St. Michael’s in Toronto and then transferred to St. Bernard and St. Bonaventure Seminaries. He was ordained in 1951.
He served as parochial vicar at St. Michael, St. Matthew, Holy Trinity, and St. Rose of Lima in Syracuse and St. Paul in Binghamton. He also served as chaplain for the Onondaga County Penitentiary.
During the homily, Msgr. Davern spoke of how a few years ago, Father McKay said to him, “I hope you don’t talk about me too long during the funeral Mass.” Msgr. Davern also told the Mass participants, “Father McKay is happy that you are here today, celebrating his life.” Msgr. Davern remembered Father McKay as being very dedicated to his ministry. “He showed a profound loyalty to the Holy Father,” remarked Msgr. Davern. “Bob worked hard on his sermons and he prepared his Masses carefully. He also loved the rosary — he said it three or four times a day.”
Father Vincent Kilpatrick, friend of Father McKay, and Msgr. Davern concurred that Father McKay possessed an exceptional ability for storytelling. “He was very affable and had a lot of friends on the west side,” said Father Kilpatrick. “He never said anything bad about anyone. He was a nice guy.”
Msgr. Davern said Father McKay had a great sense of humor. “He told a good joke and story,” he remarked. “In addition to telling it, he acted it out.” Father McKay’s parents were natives of Ireland. Msgr. Davern said one of the highlights of Father McKay’s life was when he traveled to Ireland. “He felt elated for many weeks after his return,” said Msgr. Davern.
Msgr. Davern ended the funeral Mass by saying “I pray that God will give him a great place in heaven.”