This year was my 25th anniversary of Priesthood and I had the chance to celebrate it with friends both near and far. Whether they were able to come to Washington or not, I know we were united in prayer. At Mass that day I made a conscious effort to place all the people I’ve had the privilege of meeting these last 25 years on the altar. I know very well that who I am, what I do, and how I do it depends so much on my family and the people I’ve met these last 25 years. You’ve challenged me, loved me, corrected me and forgiven me. They have been 25 wonderful years and when I think about the incredible gift of my priesthood sometimes I “well up” a little and there is this part of me that wants to scream “not worthy, not worthy, so not worthy”! God and His people have been so good to me.
On campus, our students continue to bring a smile to my face. They are lively and patient and goofy. Sometimes they are irresponsible, sometimes they are hyper responsible. When some of them pray, their faces can be like an epiphany. The trust many show me is so humbling. Their laughter is contagious and sometimes I laugh so much I hurt. This year I caught four freshmen with one bottle of beer (granted it was a rather large bottle). I poured it down the sink and left the room. The next day I called one of them to tell him that it was time for their “penance.” Six students showed up. They explained one had been hiding in the closet and the other in the bathroom. We prayed the rosary together—all fifteen decades. The kid who didn’t know the “Hail Mary” got it by the 3rd Sorrowful Mystery. As I am often fond of saying, something like that could only happen at Catholic U.
As my years at Catholic increase, I have more and more contact with alumni. It brings me such joy to see them and their families, to watch their faces as they hold their children or are tackled by them. I love to hear about their careers, their successes and their challenges. Today I got an email from Puri. He sent me a picture of his son. You could tell from his words how happy and proud he was. Kevin was a project manager on our new Opus Hall. Who would have thought that the crazy kid in Ryan Hall could do such incredible work? Susan worked on a pediatric oncology floor for years. She and our nurses touch so many lives. Matt Foley a former rugby player here at CUA will be ordained a friar priest this year. I could go on and on and on. Sometimes I feel like the father of so many. John, a former student and coach, is having a bone marrow transplant—please pray for him.
“My Children” in Connecticut are now in their mid 30s. How did that happen? They are all doing well. I only have to make one phone call to find out the news. They all tell on each other. I have three new babies and lots of families to see when I get up there after Christmas. Those visits are always a joy for me.
Mom was sick a little this fall but she bounced back with a vengeance and came down to Washington for Thanksgiving. We had 58 guests this year. Thank God the food service prepares most of the food. All we did was peel potatoes and make one of the 6 turkeys. She still emails every day and her emails are the last thing I read before I go to bed. Greg, Kelley and the kids (young adults) are fine. Matt is in his second year of college and Kristen is in her first year. They work very hard at their jobs and they even study. Kristen is driving—“YIKES!” Andrew and Sarah are growing up too. Andrew has moved from fire trucks to Airsoft and paintball guns. Sarah has a cell phone… and let me tell you, she knows how to use it. I’m always getting calls from her. I am proud of all of them.
You are receiving this annual Christmas note because you have been a part of my life. I have come to understand more and more just how important healthy, loving friendships are to all of us. I am grateful for your friendship and I count on your prayers. Please be assured of mine… As I always tell the kids (oops, I mean students) when I bless their rooms, “If you need me and you don’t call me, I’ll be heartbroken.”