Fr. Kevin Mackin, OFM

Fr. Kevin Mackin, OFMFr. Kevin Mackin, OFM, born in Brooklyn, N.Y., made his first profession in the Order of Friars Minor in 1958 and was ordained to the priesthood six years later. He is currently director of Holy Name Province’s Office of Development and of St. Anthony’s Guild.

My father was a talker, very entertaining, a good provider. My mother was quiet and very caring and a good homemaker. We did things together as a family, my parents, two older brothers and younger sister and I. My happiest moments were when we used to go to the beach. I worked for the Brooklyn diocesan paper, The Tablet, and went to the parish school, Good Shepherd, and was an altar server; it was a family tradition. I’d probably attribute my vocation to that. One brother is a pastor in Texas.

Missioners would visit the school and we’d get magazines and it looked exciting. One day, a neighbor asked, “What are you going to do when you graduate?” I said, “I’m thinking of becoming a missionary.” And she said, “Oh, become a Franciscan. I’m going to give you some literature.” Franciscans visited the parish and they were funny, entertaining. The magazine told stories about the seminary. I started at Callicoon when I was 14. The students seemed friendly. Everything was regimented.

The first Christmas I liked going home, but then I said gee, I liked being home and all, maybe I shouldn’t be going back. So I questioned, did I really want to? People would disappear. You question when someone leaves, why is he leaving and why am I staying—well, that was his decision. So I stayed.

St. Francis’s prayerfulness drew me, and also the lepers. I liked the “Prayer To The Crucifix.” We’d have daily Mass, walk around the lake and say the rosary, have activities. Fr. Arnold Brown, OFM, was a teacher; he’s now doing Franciscan Pilgrimages. Fr. Salvator Fink, OFM, became vocation director. He was very entertaining; he preceded me as Guild director. Franciscans from the missions would talk about working among the people.

After years of studies, 19 of us were ordained in Washington, D.C. I remember lying prostrate on the ground in the crowded church. My first assignments were parishes in Greenwood Lake and Butler in New Jersey. Even though I still was thinking of being a missionary, my superiors wanted me to go for a master’s in religious education. Then I taught and finished a master’s in history, and a doctorate in theology.

By that time, the missionary idea had faded. I studied ecumenism, then served at Siena College, becoming guardian in 1975. In 1977, as a Provincial Council member I went on visitations which gave me a feel for the missions, so I liked that. Later I was assigned rector at Christ the King Seminary. Then in 1988, Fr. Anthony Carrozzo, OFM, just elected Provincial, said, “I want to talk about St. Anthony’s Guild.”

The Guild and the Office of Development are a challenge. But my biggest challenge was adjusting to my parents’ deaths. When my father died in 1971, I got into a routine of calling my mother and visiting her. All of a sudden in 1990, when my mother died, our longtime family home, that connection is gone. But I like living at the friary. There are all kinds of personalities there. And there are touchpoints every day, at meals and in the evening. I’m usually around to help people.

Through classes, preaching and daily contacts, I try to help. Sure, there are things you wish you had done better. I want to see myself modeled after Francis in terms of his closeness to God. I think Francis was very uniquely close to God; I don’t see myself that way. So it’s a goal to strive for. Life with God, Church — community, and the needy.

For me, the hardest part of the Rule of St. Francis is obedience. But I think people look for something greater than themselves that can energize and motivate them, and I think the Franciscan way of life has done that for me. Preparing students for ministry and teaching was rewarding. And I hope that the thousands of letters to Guild members would inspire people in some way to lift up their eyes to the future which is life with God forever.

—This essay was written in 1992 when Fr. Kevin was serving as director of St. Anthony’s Guild. It appeared in the September 1992 issue of The Anthonian magazine.