It’s hard to believe that tomorrow it will be 10 years! We pray for the Holy Father and his mission, and we give the Lord thanks for his resolution and spiritual leadership.
On a more local level, the Lord surely blessed us with our parish mission. I’ve known Fr. Tom Boyer for many years, but I think I had forgotten just how good a presenter he is. I almost said ‘preacher’ but that doesn’t do him justice. He didn’t speak at us but invited us to walk along with him.
Our heartfelt thanks to Tom for his time with us, and our thanks to the Lord for him. Tom and I were ordained in the same year (1968.) He has “retired” to Naples from Oklahoma, and he regularly celebrates in parishes around Naples. I’m grateful he is open to being persuaded by his ‘friends’ to share some of his accumulated wisdom. He redefines retirement.
As I’ve mentioned to some of you, I don’t think about retiring because when I do, I remember it means packing everything up. That’s all it takes to kill that idea.
I know it doesn’t sound like a pious Lenten thought, but if you have someone who has been a bit of a thorn in your side, have you ever thought about making them your executor? That would be getting even! Lord, forgive me.
Getting back to Father Tom, he and I go back many years because of our mutual friendship with Father Wally McGowan with whom I was stationed in Miami. Wally was also originally ordained for Oklahoma. Tom and I can still laugh about Wally’s eccentricities. Wally had a Chevy that listed left, and he would drive many blocks to avoid right hand turns, but not even think about getting another car. He had a great cuckoo clock that he would never set but simply wind because he liked the sound of the bird. Time didn’t matter.
He was a collector; I mean anything and everything. His stuff spread throughout the rectory and his parish office like a giant amoeba threatening to eat Miami. We cleared his room so that we could keep him at home during his final illness and some great guys in the parish stored his stuff for him.
When he passed away, at his suggestion, the parishioners laid out his things in the parish hall for sale. All his knickknacks gathered about $10,000 for the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Fr. Wally’s ownership made them valuable.
A P.S. on the story is a conversation that Wally and I had one time about all his stuff. He said to me that all I should pay attention to - I don’t know why he presumed he would go before me - was a sideboard cabinet that was an antique and the two gold picture frames which held portraits of his mother and father. That was Wally. I think the cabinet was an accidental acquisition, but the frames definitely were not.
As we contemplate Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well discussing water and worship and the ways to honor God no matter someone’s background, I think it was a very happy coincidence that so many happy memories were the water of my own thoughts as Father Tom’s presence brought back great Wally memories.
Father Larry Gillick, SJ, remarked on this week’s readings, “Jesus is ‘The word’ to be heard, ‘The Life’ to be lived, and ‘The Light’ to be seen. This Word, Life and Light becomes flesh to speak and be taken in. This Life is to be lived and shared. This Light is both to be seen and to be displayed by all who hear, live and see.” Like Tom and I were able to do remembering Father Wally.