It is a pleasure to thank Father McCabe for sharing some of his story with you in my stead last week. He has been so many places and done so many things I do not delude myself into thinking I can give an account of it. I will share with you what I know, that he is a delight to have sharing the rectory.
It reminds me of how blessed we have been in the priests who have been here with us over the past six years, not because they were assigned to us by the Archbishop of Washington, but because of some connection or choice that led them to spend time with us.
Most prominent among those is Father Nick, who lived here from 2006, mere weeks after my own arrival, until 2011. Thanks be to God, he still comes to visit us. Because now he works as Dean of a large seminary, spending a week in a parish – especially this parish, where he is known and loved – is a vacation for him. A real break from his daily routine, it not only affords him rest and relaxation, but also spiritual fortification as a priest. When he was here in early January, we both came to the idea that the reverse might also be true for me. Knowing that I had not had a break in some six months, he invited me to come visit him.
So, once Fathers McCabe and McDonell were here to mind the store, I slipped up to Yonkers, New York, for a few days as Father Nick’s guest at Saint Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie. Now, four nights in mammoth stone seminary might not be everyone’s idea of a vacation, but it was perfect for me.
Instead of leading and preaching Mass, I got to concelebrate the seminary’s Sunday Mass in their beautiful chapel, and hear the rector preach to the young men preparing for priesthood. Other mornings I could offer Mass on my own in one of the small chapels, and evenings, there was adoration and Benediction in the Chapel. The Blessed Sacrament was always nearby for my prayers. The faculty and seminarians were gracious hosts and friendly when I joined them for several meals. In addition to these soul-nourishing activities, I also went into the city, where I spent large chunks of two successive days staring at great art, which is almost as fortifying.
Father Nick is thriving in his first year as Dean of Dunwoodie. It was good to see him in his place, doing his work, responding to the needs for the seminarians around him, and collaborating with the other priests there. Predictably, he is well liked, but there is also a wariness in the seminarians since he is also responsible for discipline. It’s an awful lot of work, but he is doing it well. Immediately on the right as one enters his rooms is the framed watercolor of Four Seasons of Saint Bernadette that we gave him as a farewell gift. He talks of us so often that everyone who met me said, Oh, you’re from Saint Bernadette!
Though he only visited here occasionally during his time at the Bishops’ Conference from 2007 -2010, many of your remember fondly my classmate and friend Father David Toups. I learned Friday that he has given the title of Chaplain to His Holiness, and is now Monsignor David Toups. I hope to visit him soon at the seminary where he is now Rector, in Florida.
These two holy priests have left their marks on the lives of Saint Bernadette and many of us here. They would both want you to know that Saint Bernadette has left a lasting mark on them. This illustrates why we priests often close our notes to one another with the exhortation, Oremus pro invicem – Let us pray for one another.