Queena Lee Chua’s anecdotes on Fr. Daniel J. McNamara, S.J. as scientist and priest
Here are some excerpts from Dr. Queena Lee Chua’s article on Fr. Daniel J. McNamara, S.J. entitled, “Learning the physics of life from Father Dan” (Inquirer.net 30 Aug 2009):
LAST March, when I found out that my father had only a little time to live, I called Father Daniel McNamara, S.J.
Father Dan, my confessor for two decades, now based at Ateneo de Davao University, immediately instructed, “Write a letter to your father, telling him everything you want to say, while he is still alive.”
I know my father treasured the note because, after his death, I found it stored in his personal drawer.
In April, Father Dan visited my father in the hospital, prayed over him in Latin (“a strong tradition that has been existing for two thousand years”). In and out of consciousness, my father briefly recognized Father Dan. Although my father could not talk, I knew Father Dan’s presence was a comfort.
Many times, when my faith was low (usually when dealing with death in one way or another), I turned to Father Dan. I love Catholicism and I consider myself a full-fledged Catholic, but there are many aspects of this religion that I wrestle with to this day.
During the priest abuse crisis in the US, I asked Fr. Dan, “How can American Catholics listen to priests every Sunday if many of them are pedophiles?” He replied, “Believe in the Church. Priests are human, but the Church is established by Christ.”
Here are other excerpts on Fr. Dan as a scientist:
Father Dan has a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics from Fordham University in New York, a Master of Science degree in physics from the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) and a doctorate degree in astro-geophysics from the University of Colorado. Above all, he is a committed Jesuit, finding God in the stars, in the earth and in people.
After all, Father Dan is a person with many hats. He has been chairman of the AdMU physics department (now he is chair in Ateneo de Davao), director of the Manila Observatory, college chaplain and graduation marshal. In the 1960s, he taught science and trained high school students in track and field.
As a scientist, he studied lasers, atmospheric pollution and ocean thermal energies. As a priest, he delved into ethics and is the perennial guide of seniors during their final retreat in the Jesuit villa at Mirador Hill in Baguio. As an educator, he reflected on the relationship of science to society, and lectured on these.