Archbishop Marcos G. McGrath, C.S.C.

1924 – 2000

Latin American Archbishop

Archbishop Marcos G. McGrath

Archbishop Marcos Gregorio McGrath, C.S.C., a leading figure in the Church in Latin America and a pastor at the heart of the Second Vatican Council, was born in the Canal Zone. He received his secondary education in the United States, graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1945. He was ordained a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross on June 11, 1949, doing missionary work in Chile. His superiors sent him to the Theological Institute of Paris (1949-1950), and then to the Angelicum of Rome (1950-1953) for advanced studies in theology. In Rome, he obtained his doctorate with a qualified these of magna cum laude entitled The Vatican Council I and the Evolution of Dogma. He came into contact with philosophical currents such as personalism and Christian humanism, which prepared the way to the Second Vatican Council. He knew and appreciated the great precursor movements of the Council: the liturgical movement, the biblical movement, and the Catholic Action characterized by the use of the “see, judge and act” method.

Archbishop McGrath

In 1953, McGrath was sent to Saint George’s College in Santiago de Chile. There he served as professor, prefect of religion, Catholic Action chaplain and spiritual director. From 1954, Monsignor McGrath dictated the course of Fundamental Theology in the Faculty of Theology at the Catholic University of Chile. In 1959, he was named dean of the same. Giving substance to a project studied for several years, in 1960 the magazine Theology and Life was founded, whose first director was Monsignor McGrath. It sought to relate faith and life, theology and culture.

He was consecrated Bishop of Caeciri on October 8, 1961, and then Bishop of Santiago de Veraguas on March 3, 1964. there he had the opportunity to serve the poorest, peasants and indigenous people. McGrath served as Archbishop of Panama from February 5, 1969 until his retirement on April 18, 1994, witnessing the end of a military dictatorship then a period of democratic rule. His dream, and his life, revolved around service to the Church and enthusiastic and creative collaboration with laity and religious for a church community united in evangelization. Some of the fruits of his labor were evident in the rise of new parishes during his pastoral administration and the raising of funds for their construction, and also in giving the laity more more active roles. Through his actions, writings and lectures, McGrath reminded all, but especially fellow Panamanians, of the second commandment, reaffirming for others how one could love their neighbor as themselves and defend justice as a national community. Evan after his death, he continues to be beloved Bishop and Friend to the people of Panama and holds an important place in their hearts.

“We must be dreamers; we should dream of what we desire for the future. We should dream of what can and should become of our nation, which has so many possibilities for the full personal development of all its citizens, if we succeed more and more in acting as brothers and sisters.”

Archbishop Marcos Gregorio McGrath, C.S.C.