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Living From Your Heart

A Blog by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart

A Loving Tribute to Fr. Mark McDonald, MSC



Man’s greatest need, if he is to find meaning in life, is to learn to believe in God’s love for him, and let it transform his life...Jules Chevalier

July 22, 1942 - April 2, 2018

Life of Fr. Mark McDonald

Missionary of the Sacred Heart, Father Mark McDonald, passed away on April 2, 2018 at Sacred Heart Villa in Center Valley, Pennsylvania at the age of 75. Father McDonald was born July 22, 1942 in Watertown, New York. He was the son of Donald and Anna (Murrock) McDonald. He was the grandchild of Jennie and Charles Murrock and Elizabeth and Henry McDonald.

Father was a graduate of our Lady of the Sacred Heart School and Immaculate Heart Academy. He attended St. Bonaventure University for two years and began his studies to become a Missionary of the Sacred Heart in 1961. He completed his Philosophy studies in Quebec, Canada and graduated from Laval Universi- ty in Quebec City in 1964. He completed his theological studies in Rome, Italy and graduated from the Angelicum Pontifical University in 1968. He was ordained a priest of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart on June 29, 1968 in Watertown, NY by Bishop Thomas Donnellan.

Fr-McDonald-as-a-young-priestFr. McDonald as a young priest

After ordination, Fr. McDonald taught at the Sacred Heart Preparatory Seminary and Immaculate Heart High School (IHC), both in Watertown. In 1972, he became Vice Principal at IHC. In 1976, he became Director of the MSC Retreat and Renewal Center in Shelby, Ohio. In 1983, he became Formation Director for the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in Bogota, Colombia, and in 1985 he became Sectional Superior of the MSC’s in Colombia.

Fr-Mark-Acclamation-at-the-2011-General-ChapterAcclamation of Fr. Mark at the 2011 General Chapter

In 1991, Fr. McDonald was elected Provincial of the MSC’s in the United States headquartered in Aurora, Illinois. In 1997, he became Pastor of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish in Watertown. In 1999, he became the director of the Cor Novum (MSC Retreat and Renewal center in Issoudun, France). From 2005-2017, he was the Superior General of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart worldwide and lived in Rome, Italy. In 2018 Father McDonald became semi-retired and was residing at the Sacred Heart Villa in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, USA.

Fr-Mark-meeting-Pope-FrancisFr. Mark meeting Pope Francis

Fr. Mark's Family

Fr. McDonald is survived by his sister, Mary (Ted) Mascott, of Naples Florida and sister, Sally (John) Sheinman, of Rothersthrope, Northamptonshire, England. His nephew Zane (Michelle) Riester, grandnephew Ian Riester, and grandniece Ella Riester, live in Wayne, New Jersey. He is also survived by his uncle, William Murrock, of Watertown, and his aunts, Gertrude McDonald and Shirley McDonald, of Lowvile and many, many McDonald and Murrock cousins. Fr. McDonald’s grandparents were Jennie and Charles Murrock, and Elizabeth and Henry McDonald.

Fr-Mark-familyFr. Marks family


On April 9th MSC and Religious from all over the world gath- ered to bid farewell to Fr. Mark McDonald, MSC in Watertown, NY. The main celebrant was Bishop Terry LaValley. The homilist was MSC Provincial, Rev. Raymond Diesbourg. In addition to Father’s 2 sisters, Mary & Sally, and their families, present at the mass were 32 Priests, 5 Deacons, and representatives of the MSC Sisters, Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, and Sisters of St. Joseph.

The MSC Superior General from Rome, Rev. Mario Abzalon Tovar, also attended as well as MSC Provincial Rev. Raymond Diesbourg, Local MSC Superior, Rev. Richard Kennedy, and Fathers Joseph Gleixner, Pierre Aubin, Vincent Freeh, Jonas Tandayu, David DeLuca, Br Jean-Paul Paradis, Simione Volavola, Joseph Kanimea, Frank Natale, and 3 MSC priests from the Canadian Province of Quebec.

Bishop-Terry-La-ValleyOgdensburg Diocese Bishop Terry La Valley Main Celebrant

In his homily Father Diesbourg noted that as it was the feast day of the Annunciation of Mary, he compared the life of Mother Mary to the life of Fr. McDonald. He cited Mary's submission to the will of God, when she said: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word”. Fr McDonald was available to do the will of God in his call to the mission of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. During the evening prayers on Sunday, there were people who gave testimonies regarding the life of Fr. McDonald. His grandnephew, 10 years old, put his hand up and said, “Uncle Mark brings people together”. What a beautiful description from a 10 year old.

Superior-general-blesses-casketSuperior General blesses casket

Fr. Mark will be greatly missed by the Church, and especially by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. He was a wise, great leader, and kind.

Rest in peace Fr. McDonald.


Today was supposed to be the celebration of the Annunciation of the Lord, when the angel Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary. Instead we are celebrating the funeral Mass for Fr. Mark McDonald. It is fitting, however, that we use the Gospel of the Annunciation because Mary speaks to all of us of the Christian life and in particular of the life of Fr. Mark.

The part of the Annunciation Gospel on which we want to focus is Mary’s response to the angel. After being as- sured that God was directly involved and would guide the whole process, Mary responded, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Tradition has referred to this as Mary’s Fiat, her let it be done, her yes to God’s will. In responding this way, she has modeled the perfect response to God’s will for each and every Christian. Mary didn’t know how it all would play out. She wasn’t given a blueprint of what was ahead, yet she said yes. She didn’t know how Joseph would respond to her pregnancy, still she said yes. She had no idea her baby would be born in a strange city with no lodging, but she had agreed to let it be done.

She would experience great anxiety as a refugee in Egypt and as the mother of a boy they feared lost in Jerusalem. This was part of accepting God’s will.

Jesus must have learned from Mary and later would teach his disciples to pray “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And in Gethsemane, he would pray, “not what I will but what you will.” Finally Mary’s heart must have broken as she watched the horrifying death her son was put through. Yet God’s will be done. Like Mary and like Jesus, obedience to God’s will de- fined the life of Fr. Mark McDonald. While he seldom knew what the next challenge would bring, he was al- ways ready to respond. When he agreed to take up the directorship of our renewal center in Shelby, Ohio, it gave him the opportunity to develop marvelous Scrip- tural insights. When he was asked to become a mission- ary in Colombia, he delved into the language and the culture, becoming one of our leaders in that mission. In 1991, he was elected USA Provincial and moved to our headquarters in Aurora, IL. In 1997, he returned to Watertown to become pastor of this parish, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

Because of his leadership, linguistic and spiritual abilities, he was soon called to serve on the Cor Novum program at our original foundation in Issoudun, France in 1999. He re- mained there giving retreats and directing the program until his election as Superior General of the Congregation in 2005. This required moving to Rome, Italy, where he spent the next twelve years as head of our Society of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. His gentle and insightful manner endeared him to all 1700 members worldwide as he visited country af- ter country.

He never asked for any of these assignments. His attitude was simply to be available for the community to send him wherever he was needed. His openness, his sense of humor, his belief in the value of each person, and so many other gifts, made all of his assignments a success. Like Mary, Mark modeled for us what it means to be obedient to God’s will.

So when we don’t know what’s up ahead, when we’re afraid of the future, when we’re unsure of what to do next, we too must say “your will be done”.

When we are called to face a new challenge, when we have doubts about our abilities, when our vision gets cloudy, we too must say “yes” Lord. And when we say yes to God’s will, we are at peace and have nothing to fear, just like Mark.

x 'vision - text' - Spoiler warning!

Fr Mark spent the last 18 years overseas, in France and then Italy. We were looking forward to having him back with us where he would be able to share his wisdom, insights and experience. We had asked him to take on preaching retreats, days of recollection, and parish missions. As was his custom, he gladly accepted this new challenge. But God had other plans and so called him back to his true home. While we are saddened that he will not be with us, we are heartened by the example he has left us of an obedient servant always ready to do God’s will, confident that God would lead him. We will miss you, Father Mark. May you rest in peace in the arms of the Lord.

Download Fr. Mark McDonald's Tribute

About the Living From Your Heart Blog

The Living From Your Heart blog shares stories, meditations, and testimonies about the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and their work around the world as they carry out their mission to love as Jesus loved.  

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