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New pastor 'off to a great start' at Inverness' Holy Family Parish
By Steve Zalusky | Daily Herald Staff

Bishop George Rassas, left, installs new pastor of Holy Family Parish in Inverness, Terry Keehan, who grew up in Arlington Heights and graduated from St. Viator High School.


Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

Father Terry Keehan holds up the Key to the Church as he enters Holy Family Church Sunday in Inverness during the Installation Liturgy. Bishop George Rassas installed new pastor Keehan at Holy Family Parish.


Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

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Published: 8/10/2009 12:04 AM

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Even pastors face a challenge when following in the footsteps of a legend.

In the case of Father Terence Keehan, his installation as the new pastor at Holy Family Parish in Inverness Sunday meant filling the post left vacant by the popular Rev. Pat Brennan.

The Archdiocese of Chicago reassigned Brennan after 14 years with the parish, which under his leadership grew to more than 3,700 families.

But the mood of the crowd surrounding Father Terry following his installation Mass left little doubt he had won them over.

"He's off to a great start," said Tim O'Brien, who chairs the Pastoral Council and handed Keehan the key to the church.

Another parishioner, Fred Chin, said he was concerned over Brennan's departure, but thinks Keehan will bring humor and a down-to-earth quality to the parish.

"You have to trust God and our faith," Chin said. "I'm looking forward to the journey."

Keehan, who grew up in Arlington Heights and attended St. Viator High School, was surrounded not only by his new friends but several from his past. They included Pat Boyle, better known as a Comcast SportsNet anchor, a parishioner at Keehan's former church, St. Matthias in Chicago.

Following Mass, Boyle congratulated Keehan on his homily.

"To put it in sports terms, that was a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth, as far as homilies go," he said.

During the homily, Keehan reached out to parishioners.

"Sing with me. That's just simply the best way that I can articulate my hope to be the pastor of this wonderful parish. I want to sing with you. I'll sing off key sometimes. I'll make mistakes. I'll do none of it intentionally but I will make mistakes. And I just ask you to work with me. Work with me, will you?" he ended with a laugh.

The humor was evident when he was presented with a collection basket during a ceremony in which all the parish's ministering communities brought gifts to the altar. He asked whether he will need two.

He also greeted Paul McMahon, director of the church's Youth Ministry, a native of Australia, with a "G'day, mate."

There were emotional moments, too. Keehan's mother, Pat, who lives in Lake Barrington Woods, was presented with a replica of the "Cross of New Life," a work of art that hangs in the Holy Family sanctuary. At the Baptismal font, his mother and godfather, Dennis Sullivan, greeted him and blessed him with the waters and presented him with his alb, symbolic of his baptismal garment. Keehan's brothers Jack and Bill also attended.

"It's been a wonderful day in my life. I'm very thankful to my God for giving me this wonderful family," Keehan said.

A candle was lit for Keehan's father William, who died in March 2006.

Bishop Rev. George Rassas, vicar for Vicariate I of the Archdiocese of Chicago, addressed parishioners who were concerned about losing Brennan, alluding to a quote from one of the Harry Potter movies, saying it's not the wizard who chooses the wand, but the wand that chooses the wizard.

"(It's) not about any one of us or any group of us. It's about all of us," Rassas said.

Keehan was overcome with emotion during the symbolic Laying on of Hands, to the strains of the "The Servant Song (Brother, Let Me Be Your Servant)."

"Holy Family has such a long and rich tradition of empowering the laity. And that's something I have been looking for all my priesthood," Keehan said afterward. "Pat Brennan is a brilliant man. It's humbling to follow him."