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The Story of the Chapel Chairs

April 09, 2020
By Deb Daley

Donations to Mercy High School come in all shapes and sizes. Some are monetary. Others come as gifts-in-kind, services, stocks, real estate, and more. In 2002, thanks to the efforts of then-Mercy President, Sr. Johanna, and a generous donation by Fr. Pat McCaslin, former pastor of St. John Vianney, Omaha, Mercy received an unusual donation of furniture. More than 300 chairs with attached kneelers would be given to the school for the Our Lady of Mercy Chapel. Today, they are worth well over $20,000.

“We were doing a major renovation at the church, and we decided to replace our chairs with pews. I put the call out to the Catholic community to see if there would be interest in our church chairs, and Sr. Johanna was quick to jump on board. I was happy to donate to the school because I knew they would be put to good use.  I remember the glorious day when the chairs were picked up and transported to their new home,” said Fr. McAslin.

Fr. Pat’s association with Mercy did not begin with that donation. His mother, Elizabeth Mary O’Connor, was educated by the Sisters of Mercy during her formative years. She raised her large family to be individuals of faith, and six of her 10 children entered the religious life.  Fr. Pat’s sister, Claire, is still a Dominican nun and his four brothers, Ed, Jim, Jack and Dick, all became priests. In fact, his oldest brother, Ed, who is now deceased, was chaplain for the Sisters of Mercy at the motherhouse at the College of St. Mary in the mid ‘50s.  
Fr. Pat has also ministered at Mercy by presiding at Mass and Reconciliation. 

“I also remember as a student at Creighton Prep we would go to dances with the students from St. Mary’s. That school eventually merged with St. John’s to form Mercy High School,” he said. 

The now retired priest, who was ordained in 1961, has ministered at parishes most of his life.  He also was the first Director of Diaconate for the Archdiocese of Omaha, a position that coordinates the training of deacons, for 15 years.