On Tuesday, January 26, 2016, my beloved dad, Francis B. Hennessey, MD, at the age of 88 passed away to his eternal reward surrounded by my mom, Peggy, his eight grown children, his sister, my husband, and my daughter. He was diagnosed with gall bladder cancer two and a half months before. He did not have any pain as our dear friend Fr. Joe promised. He was a very devout man, a man of great faith, and a man of family values.
Dad began to raise his growing family in Boston, where he graduated from Tufts Medical School and practiced orthopedic surgery for several years. In 1962, he moved our family to Endwell, NY, where he practiced orthopedic surgery for the next 33 years. My mom and dad had a strong belief in educating their family in the Catholic faith, and all of us went to Catholic school. They also made Sunday an important day in our family. I remember my dad taking the oldest four kids to Mass and then out to breakfast, which meant we had to get up a little bit earlier than the younger members of the family.
My dad was a man of integrity and talked about the importance of making a decent living, but never doing anything unethical or immoral. When I came home from Boston College on vacation, my dad would take time from his busy work schedule to come home early for dinner and to spend time with me over the weekends.
I have especially fond memories of our summers in Cape Cod. Dad took a whole month off, and we weren’t allowed to have a phone or television at the cottage. Looking back, this was probably very smart on my parent’s part as it forced us to read books and interact with others at the cottage. We had many relatives who came to visit us during that month, which is how we came to know our Boston relatives so well. Dad loved the sea, boats, golf, and watching football. He loved to take out his Boston Whaler and go fishing. It was years later that I told him I had secretly taken his boat over to Martha’s Vineyard for several hours. He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye as if he had already known of my mischief. I remember walking down the beach with him one time. He was relaxed away from his profession, and he could really focus on his family without all the distractions that technology brings to our lives.
In 1987, I went to Medjugorje with my mother. We came back to my sister’s house after the trip to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday. Both my mom and I had several experiences that greatly impacted us. My dad seriously listened to us as we shared our experiences. He saw our fervor and how our faith had become much more alive. A year later, my sister Eileen and her husband Dave announced they were going to Medjugorje and invited my dad. My sister said, “Dad, you might as well come with us as your office is going be closed.” Eileen was his secretary. I will never forget the expression on my dad’s face and his transformation when he came back from Medjugorje. I had traveled up to New York to be there when he returned home. He wasn’t jetlagged, and he was filled with joy and exuberance. He showed me how his Rosary had turned gold. This trip To Medjugorje deepened his devotion to Mary and the Rosary. My dad and mom went to daily Mass and prayed the daily Rosary. They had a special devotion to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts.
Signs of the Times Apostolate started in 1989 with a newsletter. My dad started reading about Marian apparitions all over the world. In 1990, we moved to an office space in Sterling, VA, and we began reporting on the multitude of past and present apparitions occurring in the world. In 1990, my husband, Ted, and I began to assemble information and research for the book The Thunder of Justice, which we co-authored. There was so much information that at one time we had enough material for two volumes. My father encouraged Ted and I to condense this information into one book as he felt people wouldn’t be able to read two volumes. Thus we nicknamed him “The Butcher from Binghamton,” as he helped us finesse the information into one book. The first edition was published in the fall of 1993. The second edition was published in 2010. Ted felt the only person that he could talk to about “the big picture” of political philosophy, events in the world, spirituality, Church history, and what the Blessed Mother is doing in the world today was my father. From the time he moved here 20 years ago, they had thousands of hours of conversations on these topics in our home.
My father retired in 1995, and he and my mom moved to Sterling, VA to help us with our young family and the apostolate. For the past 20 years, my parents have been regular faithful volunteers at our office. My mom answers the phones, helps with filing, shipping and customer service. My dad helped us with research, compiled information for the Catholic Prophecy section of the magazine, helped with inventory, bookkeeping, created databases and spreadsheets, and designed books that we published. My father had a photographic memory and he could retain dates, events, pictures, and history. He was a wealth of knowledge, especially regarding Marian apparitions and his Catholic faith.
My dad was very happy to go to Mass and then come into the office and have his coffee. He had a love/hate relationship with his Apple computer and could often be heard yelling at it. For his age, he was excellent with technology and always stayed current with new programs and systems. Many visitors to the office knew my parents as just “Nana and Grandpa.” Our friends and visitors loved to stop in the office and talk with them, as they were always interested in the lives of others. They lived a very active and productive life over their 62 years of marriage. We will always remember his smile and laughter and know he is in his eternal reward helping us from above. His beautiful, prepared, and peaceful death was a gift to all of us. I will write about it in an upcoming magazine. We believe he had a special visit from Heaven. Please pray for my mom as she adjusts to the loss of the love of her life. Pray for us too as we continue this work. We know we have a very special helper in Heaven. Dad received the Last Rites and the Apostolic Pardon Prayer two weeks before his passing. He was filled with peace and the prayer below was his gift to us and may it be his gift to you all.
For the last two and a half years, my parents prayed a special prayer called “The Devotion to the Drops of Blood Lost by Our Lord Jesus Christ on His Way to Calvary.”
St. Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary, with St. Matilda and St. Bridget, wishing to know something of the Passion of Jesus Christ, offered fervent and special prayers, upon which Our Lord revealed to them:
To all the faithful who shall recite for 3 years, each day, 2 Our Fathers, 2 Hail Marys and 2 Glory Bes, in honor of the drops of blood I lost, I will concede the following 5 graces:
1st – The plenary indulgence and remittance of your sins.
2nd– You will be free from the pains of Purgatory.
3rd – If you should die before completing the said 3 years, for you it will be the same as if you had completed them.
4th – It will be upon your death the same as if you had shed all your blood for the Holy Faith.
5th – I will descend from Heaven to take your soul and that of your relatives, until the fourth generation.
Blessed by Pope Leo XIII, April 5, 1890