Did you enjoy having Father Nick here during Epiphany week? I sure did, and not only because he helped with all Masses at a time I otherwise would have been alone. No, he is a good friend, and good company, and as he catches up on what’s going on, one of the things we enjoy talking about is you.
In fact, I enjoyed his company so much that I went to visit him last weekend, at the seminary at Dunwoodie, where he is Dean. He arranged for me to have a nice guest room, and since this is my third January visit, some of the priests and even seminarians recognize me, so the hospitality was great. Plus we went to a concert together, and as we had when he was in Silver Spring, we had a couple of great meals together.
He lived here for five years, but is known even to many parishioners and students who have arrived after he left for New York in 2011. How could you miss him? He comes several times a year, is eager to celebrate parish Masses and the school Mass, and loves seeing his friends here.
Well, he will be here again this week, but it is not just to maintain friendships or help out with Masses. No, this is the Big One. Finally, after obstacles and postponements too many to be endured, he will be facing the last two big events of his doctoral work. On Thursday, he will conduct his lectio coram, which is a strange practice whereby the student (Father Nick) has to conduct a class-like lecture on a topic assigned to him by his evaluators, but is given very little time to prepare. Then, the next day, Friday, he will defend his doctoral dissertation. That can similarly be likened to ritual abuse or hazing, if you ask me. But what do I know – I stopped at the License level, and never went for the Doctorate.
So, if you see another car in front of the rectory with New York tags this week (that is, besides Father McCabe’s), you’ll know he is here. Don’t inundate him with invitations or strike up long friendly conversations, because he will be a Man with a Mission. This is a grueling period of work and preparation, and finally performance, not to mention a time of high stress. No, if you catch a glimpse of Father Food this week, just honk and wave and tell him, “You’re in our prayers!” or some other encouragement. He will need it.
But even if you don’t see him, move him closer to the top of your prayer list this week. Lay down some extra intercession for him. Bring him to the Blessed Mother. Put in a word with your patron saint. After all the prayer he has offered for us here, we should all do our best to reciprocate. Bring it, and bring it now!
After the big events, which I have every confidence he will accomplish successfully, he will not be lingering to celebrate with meal or Mass – no, he has to get back to New York, and go back to work! But fear not. He will be back in mid-May to don his hood and cap, and receive his degree. We will see then about having us a suitable Saint Bernadette Blowout for him. Because Father Doctor Nick will have successfully finished the thirty-sixth grade!
But he will not, I am equally confident, have finished with us. Thank God!