I first saw Ferde Rombola in the pulpit of St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in our town of Beverly, Massachusetts. He is the Monday-morning lector. As a retired professional actor, he has a powerful baritone delivery. After mass, I approached him outside church and said he reminded me of an Old Testament prophet. I think he liked that.
None of us became Catholics all by ourselves. We all felt called by something, some might call it God, some Jesus Christ, some the Holy Spirit, some just a sunset. And none of us can remain Catholics all by ourselves, either. I imagine that even a hermit is sustained by connections, if only a friendship with Christ. But for those of us who choose to live in lay communities, friendship is essential. It is hard to sustain faith, to sustain prayer and service without someone to remind us, someone to throw an arm around our shoulder or kick us in the ass. As my big brother in the church, my occasional drinking buddy, and my conscience, Ferde Rombola is such a friend.
I could not be a Catholic today, not the Catholic I am today, without him.
And how could you not love a face like that? This fish wanted to kiss Ferde. Can you blame it?