Friday, July 28, 2006

Oreos and Milk: A True Story Yesterday I had the chance to catch up with a good friend, Fr. Peter, home from Rome, now serving as a young pastor of a small town parish in Nebraska. It's a real small town, he says. A church, a bar and four streets. He says there are tumbleweeds sometimes too. In the course of our reminiscing at the Irish Coffee Shop in Darby (great scones!), I heard some riveting tales of the power and the pains of priesthood. One of the tales Fr. Peter told yesterday was actually one he had heard from another friend, an elderly priest. This older priest told a story of one of his early moves into a new parish assignment back in 1976. At that time, he was newly ordained and hustling boxes up and down stairs late at night in the rectory. Looking for a quick break, he went into the kitchen and found a man around 50 years old or so, wearing a t-shirt, sitting at the kitchen table. He was eating oreos and drinking milk. He introduced himself as Karl, and began a pleasant conversation with the newly ordained. He asked him what it was like being a young priest, ministering to people, sharing their lives. What was it that people were looking for, what was their response to his own vocation and life of faith? About a year or so later, this brother priest of Fr. Peter's watched in amazement on the television when a Polish cardinal named Karol (aka 'Karl') Wojtyla was elected Pope! It was the oreo man, who was actually Cardinal Wojtyla on a visit to the US at the time of the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia! What a great image: the future Pope John Paul II, eating oreos in a t-shirt late at night, but always ready to encounter others, and to ask those fundamental questions about life that made him such an amazing priest, with such a gift for knowing hearts. I loved this story! And tonight's dessert? I'm having oreos and milk...
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