What mother has not had parting words of advice to her child before leaving the house, even just for a trip to the store or to college? “Cross at the corner”, “Call when you get there”. Elizabeth Hanlon Skelly was no different in that sense. Her words to her 16-year-old as he left for the seminary were “Wear this Medal always!” He did … and he led million’s of people all around the globe to wear this medal always.
Father William O’Brien, CM, Miraculous Medal Shrine Director, reflects on the life and legacy of Fr. Joseph A. Skelly who died on July 8, 1963.
When Father Joseph Skelly died on July 8, 1963, I am certain his mother welcomed him to heaven with the joy of a mother’s heart. She knew how he spent his life in evangelizing and spreading the good news of another mother’s concern for all her children. She knew how many seminarians her son educated through the efforts of the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal he founded in 1915. She knew how much this association contributed to the life of missionaries .of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission – St. Joseph’s College and Seminary, Marry Immaculate Seminary, a novitiate in Ridgefield, Connecticut, major seminaries in Florida and Albany, New York. Of course, there were the missioners who went to China and labored faithfully until their expulsion in the mid 20th century.
We can not imagine the past and the present of the Eastern Province without recognizing the impact of the young man who faithfully followed his mother’s advice.
These are still the aims that define the Central Association.
- To render honor to Mary Immaculate and to encourage the use of her Miraculous Medal with prayers and devotions to her, under the title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.
- To support the education and formation of men for the priesthood and brotherhood in the Eastern Province of Congregation of the Mission, the parent body of The Central Association of the Miraculous Medal.
- To support the aged and infirm Brothers and Priests of the Eastern Province of the Congregation
- To support the apostolic works of the Eastern Province on behalf of the charity and service for the poor in our communities.
The Favors that we receive from our Mother, Mary, are symbolized as rays of grace and enshrined on the Miraculous Medal. When she entrusted her mission of devotion to St. Catherine, she also gave us direction and hope. The Rays represent our favors, which she hears and answers when we seek her in loving devotion.
I am privileged and blessed to continue Fr. Skelly’s work. I have come to a deeper understanding of words he himself wrote on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee in 1950. In this, my Golden Jubilee I make my own his words.
“No one knows better than I that I could not have brought off the successful development of the Miraculous Medal devotion without the help of many minds and hands. I am given credit for the labors of a hundred other people. And on the occasion of my Golden Jubilee, I wish to make public and grateful acknowledgment to everyone who has aided me.”
As we approach the anniversary of his death I simply say “Thank You” to all who continue to make this ministry possible.