Singer Planned to Enter Church

Clare Donnelly


Rumors had circulated for years that Rich Mullins was on his way into the Catholic Church. To settle the issue Credo spoke with Fr. Matt McGinness, whose friendship with Mullins began in 1993 when, at no charge, Mullins performed a concert and led a prayer service for 6,000 pilgrims at the Denver World Youth Day. McGinness was director for youth ministries for the Diocese of Wichita. Today he is vocations director and chaplain of the Newman Center at Wichita State University.

"He got in touch with me that evening, as everyone was setting up for the concert. He said, 'You know, I'd really like to get with you one of these days real soon.' We talked about things Catholic and he'd ask all sorts of questions. I connected him with an RCIA program in the parish in which he lived," Fr. McGinness recalled. That was in 1995. Rich completed the program, but his journey was not yet finished.

"He told me that he knew he would make the switch to Catholicism someday but at this point he just wasn't ready." On his concert tours, Mullins regularly visited Fr. McGinness in Wichita. "A month ago it was becoming very evident, by his questions, that he was drawing very close to making that decision. He was attending Mass weekly if not more often. He just continued to ask questions. His theology was becoming more and more Catholic," Fr. McGinness said. The night before the accident, Mullins called Fr. McGinness and said, "This may sound strange, but I have to receive the body and blood of Christ." McGinness replied, "It doesn't sound strange at all, it sounds wonderful." They planned to meet Sunday morning after Mass. "I thought I was going to bring him into the Church on Monday, because of his tight schedule. But I've spoken with his friends in recent days, and he had told them that he had hoped to come in this October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi." Mullins never celebrated on earth the feast of his favorite saint. Instead, he died too suddenly the next night.

McGinness reflected, "Rich was already baptized, so it would be a Confirmation by desire, kind of like a Baptism by desire. And you know, I would pray for him as I would pray for any person, for the forgiveness of his sins and the repose of his soul. He was consciously, actively, excitedly seeking God through Jesus Christ. And you can't ask for more from any person."