My Dad loved Priests he always had a special place in his heart for them, the good, the bad, the holy ,the unholy, `those who could sing and those who were tone deaf. Nothing mattered if you were a Priest he loved you. But there were special priests who stood out in his mind and he called them Priest's Priests.. When he met a priest who impressed him by his holy life or ministry he would say, Rob there is a Priest's Priest. That honorary title was not given out lightly. This weekend I met a Priest's Priest. His name is Fr. Tom Connery. He is 70 years old and he welcomed me into his home when I went to Lauren and Jake's wedding in Glenville NY.
Fr. Tom said his last Mass in Immaculate Conception Church and was just one week into his retirement when I met him. From the very first moment his hospitality was exceptional. We immediately began to talk about our ministries and our lives. I was so moved to hear how he spoke about his life as a priest. He served wherever the Church sent him. This included several assignments in Alaska and the Albany Diocese. He spoke about his concerns for young priests and how a parishes should be run. He had an immense respect for the role of the laity in the Church. Here was a man who found a substitute for his ministry on Kodiak Island Alaska and became a fisherman for the summer so that he could better relate to his parishioners. As he reminisced I was so moved how God had lovingly worked through this man's generous heart. He did God's work in Hospital Ministry,an Inner City Parish, a church in the boonies (no disrespect intended he loved it there) and then Immaculate Conception. He spoke about the people and church he served as a father speaks of his family. When you meet a man like Fr. Connery it is easy to understand why people call priests father. He had so much to share and I was eager to listen. As he paid for breakfast at the Greek dinner down the street he looked me in the eye and said with absolute conviction. "Its been a wonderful ride" Yes it has Fr. Connery. Yes it has indeed. Thank you for the generous gift of our life and love. Enjoy your well earned rest and God Bless You
BTW strange coincidence or moment of divine providence. The day before he died Msgr. Robert Paul Mohan said the same exact words after 60 years of Priesthood. "It's been a great ride" WOW