To the Editor: Joseph Finnigan was accused of stealing money from St. Patrick and St. Anthony Church; if convicted, he might be sentenced to prison. I have been thinking about this tragedy.
First, I feel deeply sorry for his wife, children, grandchildren and friends. Years ago, one of my relatives committed a crime. I remember with burning horror the erroneous television and newspaper reports, with their incendiary dramatic hyperbole. In the end, my relative served a short time in prison — but he, who was guilty, as well as we, the innocent family, were humiliated. So, I hope our community will respect the privacy of the Finnigan family and treat them compassionately.
Second, one tragic mistake is not the total measure of a man. Mr. Finnigan contributed to the world. I did not know him well, but my understanding is that he had a productive career before retiring, and then became a deacon in the Catholic Church. For 11 years afterward, he prepared couples for marriage, celebrated weddings and baptisms, visited parishioners in nursing homes, and gave thoughtful homilies at Mass. Although he has now distressed his church community and family, we should keep in the balance his meritorious qualities and contributions.
Third, we do not know why others commit crimes, but we know we have our own foibles and failings — which we hope will never be splashed on the front page of a newspaper or broadcast via the evening news or Internet. Because we are human and prone to failure, all of us will need forgiveness and compassion someday. For the good of all, I believe we should allow people to make restitution and redeem themselves, rather than condemning and throwing them away when they err.
— Nancy O’Neill, Grand Haven