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 | By Linda Tully

A Steadfast Shepherd and Faithful Friend

Linda Tully, former Chancellor for the Diocese of San José, Reflects on PJ’s Episcopacy

Having worked with the late Bishop Patrick J. McGrath for over eight years, Linda Tully, his appointed chancellor from 2012 to 2020, can personally and professionally speak to the late Bishop emeritus of San Jose’s deep desire to make everyone feel welcome in the Church. “He felt that everybody was welcome in the Church because he saw that it was like a big family,” she explained. “I think that probably in every aspect of his life, he went out of his way to make people feel welcome.”


An Inclusive and Christlike Leader

Linda  recalled how Bishop McGrath’s pastoral plan was imbued with the same empathy and kindness that guided all his decisions. “He had a deep concern and compassion for everyone,” she said. She recounted that from the beginning, Bishop McGrath and those he worked with were united in imagining the Church open to all. Together they developed a plan “through an extensive, three-year consultation with parishioners, clergy, religious, and staff from across the diocese.” In committing to collaborate closely with priests, religious, and laity of the diocese, Bishop McGrath fulfilled his sacred duty while personifying the face of Christ. “I think he is one of those few people in whom you really did see the face of Christ. In my view, he consistently strived to be the face of Christ and sought to recognize that same essence in every person.”

A Compassionate Shepherd

During arguably one of the most scandal-ridden eras in the Church, Bishop McGrath fostered support and healing for the victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse. “He believed that when one member of the Body of Christ has been hurt, the entire Body suffers,” Linda said. “He was outraged and heartbroken that innocent people had been abused by some members of the clergy. He held listening sessions with the victim-survivors to hear their stories and understand their trauma, offering compassion and seeking forgiveness.” He also engaged in frank discussions with his priests, Linda added, “who, like him, bore the agony of their people and consequences of the crisis deep within their hearts.”

A Personal Connection

His thoughtfulness was also one of the most transformational aspects of working with Bishop McGrath. “He could stop in a procession, turn, see someone, shake their hand, and that person felt seen,” Linda recalled. “He made everybody feel special and remembered. He remembered the names of children and families. That is impressive considering the thousands of people he met.” Linda pointed out, “The stories shared at his funeral revealed that people felt a personal connection. It spoke deeply to me about how he cared for and shepherded his people.”

Together in Faith Forever

Over time, Linda became one of Bishop McGrath’s friends. “We coincidentally shared a birthday, and every year he would call to wish me well. This year, without his presence, my birthday felt noticeably incomplete.” Linda and her family had been planning for a special visit from the late bishop before he died. “We had planned to invite him to our home later in the spring. However, the Lord called my dear friend to his eternal home instead. I have no doubt that He welcomed the bishop with open arms to the table of plenty, surrounded by loved ones and filled with endless stories.” Linda and many others who worked with and shared Bishop McGrath’s friendship will miss him dearly, “but we are thankful that ‘Together in Christ,’ our diocese and yes, our lives, have been forever transformed by the blessing of his presence and grace.” MN

Linda Tully is the former Chancellor of the Diocese of San Jose. She and her husband, Charles, are the proud parents of three adult children and welcomed their first grandchild in February. When not writing or spending time with family, she volunteers as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion to the sick at Saint Louise Hospital.

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