I know that in January everything can seem a little grimmer. With the Christmas holidays behind us, it’s a long haul to the next fun. The weather is unremittingly grim, and we cannot even console ourselves much with thoughts of next month, since that is February, and there’s an extra day of it this year, to boot! It is all exacerbated by being in an election year. Even Lent is beginning to look good from here.
So I have some good news to share with you. Father Clint McDonell, whom many of you have met or at least seen and heard since he began helping out in our parish a few months ago, has received permission from his Archbishop to move into our rectory here. He will help out with Masses and confessions, and help keep morale high in the rectory, all very important functions for which he is well suited.
Fr. McDonell is a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, ordained three and a half years, who has been assigned to pursue his doctorate in philosophy at Catholic University. That will take a lot of time and work, at minimum five years, so if we are all nice to him, this could be a long and happy relationship.
I am not saying he will take Father Nick’s place – I doubt anyone could do that – but he will take Father Nick’s room. No one can aspire to carry the title of Father Food with quite the style that Fr. Nick brings, but Fr. McDonell does indicate both an interest in eating and an inclination toward cooking at fairly high levels of zeal and skill. Heaven knows he has tested my own skills as I have tried to prepare meals that would convince him to want to live here.
I believe most of his sports loyalties are predictably local to Detroit, but you can ask him about that yourselves. But his undeniable Midwestern-ness does liberate this Alabama boy from the oppressive preponderance of New Yorkers that Frs. Nick and DeRosa formed. Now we have a three-way tie – or maybe a Triple Alliance.
His most important qualifications are that he loves being a priest, and really likes Saint Bernadette. He started hanging around here last fall, and helped out when I was away in October, and covered all the Masses when Fr. DeRosa and I both had to go on the Archdiocesan priest’s retreat in November. But I know for a fact that he has only begun to get to know you personally, and since that is the very best part, I encourage and invite you to help him with that when next you see him.
Now, he says he will be moving here gradually over coming months, and not be full-time in residence here until next fall semester. We have already asked him to be here when either Fr. DeRosa or I hope to be away. But once he gets to know you, I don’t know how he would possibly prefer to cram himself back into his little dorm room near campus rather than stay in the Holy House of Soubirous.
Such reluctance to leave would not be without precedent. Heck, Father Nick can’t stay away, and he is supposed to live in another state! And certain other priests are known to have gone away only to come back, and stay…and stay...and stay. Such is the power of this parish and her gracious and good-natured people. You just keep it up!
God bless you with ever-abundant charm and enthusiasm. It’s one thing that I can enjoy even in January, and in every other month of the year too.