Part 3: The Forgotten Legion of Christ Missionary
BIOGRAPHICAL info (Updated 5/27/15)
Fr.Raymond Kevin Comiskey Walsh, + 5/26/2015 was born on Jan 19, 1942 in Dublin, Ireland. He grew up in Whitehall and was an active member of the Legion of Mary. He joined the Legionaries of Christ in September 1961, following in the footsteps of his friend Paul Lennon and influence of recruiter, Santiago/James Coindreau, at Bundrowes House, Bundoran, Co. Donegal, Republic of Ireland.
Some of the candidates from that same year who still are priests in the Legion are Brian Farrell, Fintan Lawless, Thomas Moylan, Donal Corry, John Walsh, John Devlin and Jude Furlong.
He was ordained to the priesthood at the Apostolic School in Tlalpan, January 29, 1970 (just 28) by then Apostolic Delegate (nuncio) Luigi Raimondi.
In 1971 he arrived in Chetumal, capital of the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, and was soon assigned to the Parish of Santa Cruz, in the central town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto (Maya region). Fr Raymond studied Maya so he could understand the people and be understood by them when he administered the sacraments. He was ably assisted by two Maya bilingual “sacristans” /catechists and by the Madres de la Luz sisters.
Fr. Raymond spent decades there serving the Maya descendants in a very selfless and generous ministry.
Later he moved to Cancun and served the faithful there preaching fearlessly the Word of God and giving good example to his fellow Legionaries by his simple and austere life style.
When his illnesses caught up with him he elected to live (or was left to live) alone in Merida at the home of a friendly family. His health declined until he was confined to a wheelchair.
At this writing (5/27/15) the blogger does not have concrete information about the circumstances of his passing
Part 3: THE FORGOTTEN LEGION OF CHRIST MISSIONARY
Visit to Bishop Emeritus Jorge Bernal-Vargas, LC,
Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón, Chetumal, Q. Roo, México
January 30, 2015
By John Lloyd Stephens,
Author of Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan
My mission had been simplified: to find an outlet for Father Ray’s writings. So as soon as I returned to the comfort of Merida’s hotel zone I searched for a place where I could copy his writings. Not such an easy task. I could not count on your normal American efficiency; no Kinko’s available. A few stores offered copying and other services. Copies were relatively expensive by US standards but I was determined to do Ray right. Choosing one that looked most professional I immediately requested my copies. The store accepted my request for three bound copies but I had a feeling it would be a laborious process. I asked for them to be ready next morning. The employee asked for my phone number so she could call me when the copies and the bill were complete.
Anyhow the next day, after some delay and complications, they were ready and I was able to pick them up. Called Ray but got no answer. I set off for his place now knowing his proper address. Got there. Nobody there. Stretching my arm I pitched his copy through the wrought iron gate in the direction of his front door and made my way back.
I wanted to show the second copy to Monsignor Bernal his LC superior in Chetumal if I could meet him. I would keep another copy for myself in case Mons. Bernal did nothing with the copy I would deliver to him.
We drove back to Chetumal in our rented Renault. Victoria B wanted to hand a little present to Srta. Lilí Conde who had been so kind to us on our arrival to Chetumal two weeks previously. We were unable to meet with her again but left them with the hotel concierge.
John Lloyd still had to finish his mission. At around 8:00 pm he sought out Mons. Bernal near the Church of the Sacred Heart, Parque de los Caimanes. He knew the priests’ residence was nearby. Friendly neighbors pointed the way: “The big patio around the corner.” Walked in. To his left a young Legionary was teaching about 30 people in one of the classrooms. Kept going toward the main two-story building. “I want to see Mons. Bernal!” he called out loudly. A face peeked out through an upstairs curtain.
After a while Mon. Bernal came down the stairs wearing his usual attire, pants and a white guayabera. He had aged and the gaps in his front teeth were more pronounced. “Did he have good dental care here on the missions?” Lloyd wondered to himself. Monsignor remarked that Fr. Patrick, Lloyd’s companion for two years in Bacalar, was not around; he would be delayed because “he was giving talks at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.”
[From the get go Monsignor seemed to be in a hurry. He did not invite Lloyd inside to visit with the other members of the Legion community. The conversation took place strolling around the patio. Was he some kind of persona non grata?, ran through Lloyd’s subconscious.]
The usual pleasantries. Decades had passed since Mons. Bernal had sent his last report to Fr. Maciel regarding Lloyd’s behavior on the missions, since the day Lloyd had confronted Monsignor about him retaining some of Lloyd’s personal and confidential correspondence from the Cardinal Archbishop of Mexico. But all this was behind them. Safer for both to reminisce about the good times. The man of the cloth recalled those companions who had “gone before us in the sign of peace.
“How are you, Monsignor? -“Really nobody now. Just getting old. I’m emeritus now.”
“And what about Raymond, Monsignor? I visited him in Merida and he is very ill.”
-“I know. Bishop Elizondo has been to see him.”
“I understand he is receiving financial aid from the Legion. I was wondering where that was coming from. I mean…”
-“Where from do you think?” –a little testily. (Meaning from local funds and not from Legion of Christ central administration.)
“Monsignor, you know he was written some stuff, homilies, etc. and I have a copy with me in case someone would like to publish.”
-“Ah-a” –otherwise no reaction…
“He is in pretty bad shape and being taken care of by his former secretary.”
-“You know he never took good care of his health. And he is stubborn. He prefers it that way.”
“Even so; he was a close friend of mine.”
-“Bishop Elizondo goes to visit him. He is taking care of him and handling it.”
Monsignor Bernal seemed to be getting increasingly nervous and Lloyd perceived his desire to terminate the meeting.
“Well, Monsignor, thank you very much for your time. Please give my regards to Fr. Patrick and all the other members of the community. Let us stay in touch.”
-“Thank you for your visit, Lloyd, and may God Bless you.”
“John Lloyd Stephens, author of Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan, turned and walked slowly across the concrete patio through the wide gate with a heavy heart at the emotional distance he had sensed during his interview; he was also chilled by Monsignor’s coldness towards his childhood friend cum Legionary. He tried to conjure up ways that retired missionary Raymond Cumiskey, officially registered as a member of the Legion of Christ Cancun religious community but living with a friendly family, would be better taken care of physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually during the remainder of his days.