From the archives: “My brother, the priest”

Originally posted in August 2010

From Denver comes this lovely tribute to one newly ordained man in particular — and to the Catholic priesthood in general. The author concludes:

David left a medical career and a beautiful girlfriend behind to pursue a life of a different kind of commitment. If you met my brother in a bar, you could cover such subjects as gunshot wounds, mountain biking, church history, and how to get a running start, leap off one leg and kick an 8-foot-high ceiling. He reveres women, mothers and children, and has been my protector since childhood. In David and those ordained with him (Father Mike, a skateboarder who smokes cigarettes, and Father Matt, a once frat-boy, both in their early 30s), I have seen a gentle firmness, a quiet prayerfulness, and a fierce love for families that grows out of their decision to remain childless. Oddly enough, the best priests model what fatherhood — a weakened role in so many communities today — can be.

My brother’s orthodox Jewish friend, Libby, flew in for his ordination and shared my sense of wonder at his vocation. A squat elderly woman with dark eyebrows, Libby carried around a tattered maroon briefcase and spoke with a sharp, hoarse voice.

“Have you ever heard of a mensch?” she asked. “Literally, it translates to ‘man.’ But it means any person who has decency. My father used to tell me to be a mensch. What he meant was to act always with integrity and decency. Decency. You either have it in you or you don’t. Your brother? Your brother is a mensch.”

At the post-ordination party, we did what Catholics do: We ate and drank and steeled ourselves through conversation against hours, days, years of missteps. A seminarian showed up with three kegs. The Little Caesar’s on Federal donated 10 pizzas. When my brother showed up, he had a slice of pizza, a beer, and he blessed his friend’s nine kids.

Read it all. You’ll be glad you did.

Image: St. John Vianney, patron of parish priests.  His feast day is celebrated August 4.

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