For 22 years, he was my friend, my pastor, my boss (for nine of those years), and always a mentor. I've spent many, many times over the last 5 days or so remembering all the funny things, many of which took place within the walls of the parish office, some of which were in the college setting. Many of them revolved around his legendary tight wallet..... and the pliers with which he opened them. I heard today from someone who attended his funeral that one of the jokes in the homily was that Padre was probably one of the few people who still had his First Communion money.
Oh, and we cannot forget his legendary love for (ahem) "staying in touch"..... quickest way to get the real news of the Diocese was telephone and tell Padre. My coworker and I joked that if 4 priests called within a morning, each asking for Padre, you could absolutely count on some big news going down in the Diocese -- a shakeup, a big resignation or retirement, or (far too often) a death.
He took our Catholic Campus Club on a weekend retreat at one of his former parishes, who graciously opened up the use of the rectory to ten college students. He helped us re-enact a real Seder meal. He generously poured the four cups of wine (per person), and then.... just when we'd had all the fun we could stand -- he conducted a snipe hunt with us. Yeah. Oh, the other kicker: we'd all have to attend the early Mass since they had him scheduled for that one. And it was our only hope of being able to attend and actually have a seat for Mass.
He came to our parish at a time of great pain and guided us through a long, protracted healing process. Some people never forgave him simply for not being Fr. B. I, on the other hand, believed him to be just whom we needed.
Not to say there were times -- especially after I went to work for him -- that we probably could have cage-fought each other. I thought on plenty of occasions my name had morphed into "Dammit Annette Get In Here!" There were days I prayed for the Bishop to move him ANYWHERE and send us ANYONE, which I quickly rescinded and/or modified. Never think God doesn't occasionally say, "Careful what you pray for...."
When he left the parish, I cried buckets. And let me tell you, I did last night at his wake/vigil service. I do not cry pretty. At all. I cry very ugly. Red, squally, drippy, heave-y, sobby, wheezy. Yeah, all the above, right as they rolled that casket by. The only words going through my head were "This is it, Padre. This is goodbye." And it was more than I could take. I was already a mess. This was worse.
I'm still unpacking 22 years of funny stories and good memories. I'll post them too, I promise. But right now, all I can think on, is that I can't stand January 22...... it takes too many good people from me.