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(Photo courtesy Martin Delfino)

 Msgr. Harry Schlitt received special recognition Oct. 28 at the Sixth Annual St. John Vianney Luncheon for retired priests.

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Archdiocese honors retired priests
November 1st, 2016
By Valerie Schmalz

Every year the archdiocese honors its retired priests with a special luncheon, and this year the woman who has taken care of those priests since 2002 was singled out too.

Honoring Mary Schembri at the Sixth Annual St. John Vianney Luncheon to honor retired priests was a cause for “grateful sadness” Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone said because Schembri recently announced she will retire at the end of this year. When Schembri was hired to take care of retired priests in 2002, a case management system for retired priests was an innovation and she was met with some suspicion. “You talk to that girl, she will take away your car keys and put you in a home,” was the word after her first couple of cases, Schembri said. However, today the case management system is one other dioceses look to for advice. Schembri “so exudes what it means to accomplish the work the Lord gives us,” the archbishop said.

The luncheon for retired priests is “a wonderful opportunity to recognize them, thank them, and honor their very many years of service to God’s people,” Archbishop Cordileone told the more than 530 people gathered at St. Mary’s Cathedral event center Oct. 28. The luncheon raised more than $260,000 to support retired priests, according to the archdiocesan development office.

Those who received special recognition were Msgr. Harry G. Schlitt and Msgr. Edward P. McTaggart. The posthumous priest honorees were Father Kevin Gaffey, Father Francis K. Murray, and Father Thomas L. Seagrave. Msgr. McTaggart, a longtime military reserve chaplain and beloved pastor and priest, was unable to come. Vicar for clergy Father Raymund Reyes gave a short talk about each of the priests honored.

Msgr. Schlitt, who served for 12 years as vicar for administration and moderator of the curia, is well-known for his communications work in radio and television nationally and locally, including God Squad Production’s weekly television Mass which Msgr. Schlitt frequently celebrates. He has written a new memoir “I’ll Never Tell, Odyssey of a Rock & Roll Priest.” A gifted raconteur, Msgr. Schlitt turned serious to share “The best advice I ever got as a priest,” from his good friend and television personality Merv Griffin. “Comedians and emcees are a dime a dozen. None of those guys can forgive. None of those guys can take bread and wine and make it into the body and blood of Christ.”

From November 3, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.

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