After a brief illness, on Sept. 11, my father, James V. McManamy Sr. went to his eternal rest. When he got to the other side, I have that the words he heard were “well done good and faithful servant, for I was hungry and you gave me to eat.” Besides his greatest joy, his three children, 11 grandchildren and two great grandchildren, Jim spent a good deal of time in the last number of years since retirement and the death of his wife and my mother (who passed away 11 years ago) as a volunteer of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Dad faithfully attended daily mass and read the Gospels regularly; he believed it was on the basis of those words that he would be judged.
Dad had a brilliant mind and he used it effectively and creatively in many ways: for 43 years as a family law lawyer, practicing and playing chamber music (Brahms. Mozart, etc.) with his quartet, and planning and creating his beloved garden, for which he won awards. The fact that dad was a life-long type one diabetic did not stop him from doing whatever he wanted.
Among the many commitments of my father, defending the most defenseless was especially important. At the top of the list was the unborn child. Until 1969, abortion was illegal in Canada. But there were rumblings that things were going to change. People were sold on the idea because abortion would be “rare and exceptional” according to its promoters in the media, among radical feminist groups, and in government. We all know what happened, but dad was not fooled. He and my mother helped to found Niagara Region Right to Life (where he founded the annual International Mother’s Day Walk to unite Canadian and American pro-lifers along the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls) and became supporters of excellent pro-life organizers also in their infancy: Toronto Right to Life and Campaign Life (now Campaign Life Coalition). Dad was very much a part of the important victories and suffered the crushing defeats with a spirit of hope. He believed in being the voice of conscience for those who could not speak for themselves. He would have agreed with the words of the late great Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta who once said “I was never called to be successful but to be faithful.”
Some would have called dad an absolutist because he would not settle for anything less than full protection for the most defenseless – beside the unborn that included the aged, the physically challenged, and other potential victims of euthanasia. But the reason for him was simple: human life was not negotiable. It was not subject to opinion polls, parliamentary “free votes” or political whims. Dad used all of his brilliance and abilities to drive this point home time and time again. We, his children, among countless, others got the point. We continue to be pro-life and culture of life activists to this day.
Thanks dad for the memories, and thanks for never quitting when things looked bleak. You set a great example, not only for your children but many others. Now may you enter into the joy of your master and rest in the peace of the risen Christ—for he is the author and life, and your eternal life. Rest in peace!
James V. McManamy is the second son of the late James V. McManamy Sr. He teaches senior philosophy and religion in Georgetown, Ont.