Angels of God

The McDonnell brothers get a sit down with Cardinal Justin Rigali.

By Mike Newall
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jun. 7, 2006

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Illustration by Paul Hoppe

The meeting was arranged through an intermediary.

Thursday, 11 a.m. Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul rectory.

His eminence Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, has agreed to sit down with the three McDonnell brothers, all of whom were molested by the same Catholic priest while growing up in West Philadelphia.

The cardinal promised to meet with victims of clergy abuse when he was appointed archbishop in 2003.

Now it's the McDonnells' turn.

They're looking forward to it.

"It is our chance to be heard by the church that ran us over," says John McDonnell, 62, the middle sibling. "It's part of our healing process."

The guardian angel prayer.

That was the prayer the McDonnells' devoutly Catholic mother would make them recite every morning before they'd rush off to St. Gregory's Parish School.

Angel of God, my guardian dear

To whom God's love commits me


Ever this day be at my side

To light and guard, to rule and guide

Alex, John and Brian, three fair-faced, blue-eyed Irish-American kids praying with their mother for guardian angels to watch over them.

And that was the prayer they'd whisper to themselves as altar boys when Father Gerard Chambers would creep up behind them in the sacristy after Mass.

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