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His friends called him a maverick, a teacher, a visionary and, above all, a man of tremendous faith. He challenged Church leaders to reexamine traditional ways, including the role of women in the Church - advocating for the inclusion of women as priests, and allowing them to give Mass readings and serve communion in his parishes.

Father Francis Markey was known for his homilies, the commentaries given by a priest after the scripture readings during the Mass. His colleague, Father Michael Miller, called Father Markey’s homilies memorable, “so lucid, intriguing, challenging, good-humored, hopeful. So . . . Gospel. It was dazzling! I never preached in the parish without the uneasy conviction that I was robbing the people of the preaching of a vastly more mature and spiritual man."


Francis Markey was born in Decatur, Illinois, on October 6, 1908, and grew up in Stockton, California. He was ordained a priest in 1937, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and spent his first several years as a priest in parishes in Albuquerque and Las Vegas, then joined the U.S. Army at the outbreak of World War II, serving as the only Chaplin in the Galapagos Islands during the Pacific campaign.


After the war Father Markey was assigned as Pastor of Holy Cross Church in Santa Cruz, California. During his ministry there he helped create Good Shepherd School, built the Christ Child Chapel in the Santa Cruz mountains, and served as editor of the Central California Register. In 1960 he was named as pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Capitola, California. During his time there he joined with another parish, Star of the Sea, to create the Good Shepherd School in 1963. In 1968 he became the founding pastor of Resurrection Parish in Aptos, where he served until he retired in 1974. 


Father Francis MarkeyAfter retirement Father Markey volunteered as a substitute priest in a variety of locations worldwide, served as the first president of the Priests Senate in Monterey, and helped organize the Monterey Bay Memorial and Funeral Society. He lived nearby his former parishes, in Santa Cruz, California, growing his own vegetables and fruit, baking his own bread, and maintaining bee hives for honey. Reverend Monsignor Markey died at his home on July 16, 1999.


The collection of homilies presented here cover the period of his ministry in Aptos and Capitola. They are Father Markey’s working drafts, and show the development of his ideas and presentations. His style and themes are well represented - often referring to events of the week as a springboard to his message ("The Devil is back in business again! Time Magazine reports this week that crowds of sensatlon-seekers are calling by phone or visiting in person!..."), engaging the congregation by way of a challenging introduction ("How free are you? Or - to pose the broader question: have you ever been free?..."), or beginning with humor that evolves into a serious discussion ("One of the functions which the Church carried out quite effectively over the years was that of making people feel guilty..."). They show the side that Father Miller referred to when he talked about Father Markey having “a playfulness that he applied to himself and the church and just about everything else. If it wasn't God, it could be challenged."


The homilies are part of a larger collection of Father Markey’s personal papers that are housed in Santa Clara University Library’s Archives and Special Collections Department, a gift from Father Markey’s cousin, Margaret Webb. They serve as a good introduction to the man of whom Bishop Sylvester-Ryan of the Diocese of Monterey said “He was not afraid to be a leader and a prophet of his time. He was a man of tremendous faith, and had a real understanding of the human condition and a great compassion for each and every person he worked with." 



Information from:
Observer (official newpaper of the diocese of Monterey) December 1998 issue, p. 3
Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 21, 1999
Father Markey's homilies




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