Today, I want to share the story of a priest that I had the pleasure of meeting, working along side and getting to know a little bit. I will say, I didn’t know him well, he was a quiet co-worker and our time together was brief. Father was a slender, well over-six-foot tall man and age wise, he could have been my son. Sometimes, I felt he struggled relating to his students. They struggled relating to his sharing of his message of beliefs, faith and the Church.
At the end of the school year, Father was transferred to a small, country parish. Everyone agreed his gift was connecting with the older parishioners. His quiet demeanor, soft-spoken words and slow mannerisms suited them well. He had the patience’s of a saint, they said. His visits to the local nursing/health care facility would often last all day. He’d visit parishioners and non- parishioners alike.
In his parish, there was a lady, a charter member whom, “helped build the parish from the ground up” she often said. She and her husband were childless and when he died she was all alone. The people of her faith community were her family. They checked on her, brought her hot dishes, mowed her lawn, and shoveled her walk in the winter. When she was no longer able to live alone, she moved to the health care facility just down the block.
Father was one of her regular visitors. She held count and he listened to her stories and when finished, they prayed together. No one could tell who enjoyed their time together more!
One weekend, God was getting ready to call his faithful servant home. She grew weaker by the hour, people came bidding her their final farewell. When Monday rolled around everyone had jobs to get to, kids to get off to school, chores to do but one visitor remained, Father. She whispered bits of information and he listened. He offered prayers of thanks and she listened. He wiped a tear from her cheek and offered a sip of water. She offered a smile and patted his hand.
Day slipped into evening and evening stretched into night. One staff member mentioned to another, “He’s been here three days straight.” In the wee morning hours, one last breathe and she was looking into the face of her Maker. Like in many small towns news spread quickly. Before noon, the word on the street was, “Father spent the last three days at the nursing home.” “Father was there for our friend.” “Father was like the son she never had.”
Because of his heart of a servant, Father had won the respect and love of his parishioners. Father spent time perfecting, his God-given-gift and shared it with those around him.