Tribute to Fr. John Harvey, OSFS
Not even two months ago, on the feast of his patron saint, St. John the Evangelist, and right at the hour of mercy, Fr. John Harvey went to his eternal reward. Over 30 years ago, the Servant of God, Terrence Cardinal Cooke, had asked Father, at the suggestion of Fr. Benedict Groeschel, to begin an apostolate in the Archdiocese of New York to a group of men and women who often feel estranged from the very “gift of God” St. Paul mentions in tonight’s reading. (Rom 3:23-25) In the mind and heart of Fr. Harvey, Courage was [and remains] the Church’s response to that sense of estrangement … a practical and pastoral means to diminish fear, isolation, confusion, resentment, and even anger, and to remedy misguided compassion … all of which tend to surround the question of homosexuality. Where the Church must say “no” to what is contrary to the moral law, through Courage she also says “yes” to those who struggle with same-sex attraction. In certain areas of sexual morality that can be particularly challenging for some, Cardinal Cooke and Fr Harvey knew that the Church must provide both clear teaching and also, as a matter of natural justice, the means to be faithful to the moral law, especially when the culture is hostile.
A Tribute to Fr John Harvey, OSFS
Those of us blessed to know him well knew that Father Harvey was a peaceful soul, in the sense of Augustine’s tranquilitas ordinis. Tonight’s reading for evening prayer comes from the section in Romans where St. Paul addresses justification through faith in Christ. For Fr. Harvey, homosexuality was not first a cultural issue or a political matter to be debated, but a personal daily struggle in the lives of many. The Church had given him a mission in the name of Christ, which he cheerfully and manfully embraced, and his sturdy faith never faltered, irrespective of the controversy, the resistance, or the seemingly modest results … and so he did not lose his peace. And Father believed, as Our Lord taught us, that there is no conflict between charity and truth, and this further deepened the tranquility of order in his soul, which then manifested itself in his work as the founding director of Courage.