SPECIAL TO THE CATHOLIC HERALD
You were recently quarantined in your home from your wife; how are you feeling?
Just fine. No symptoms, thank God. Unfortunately, our Pastor at St. Charles Borromeo was diagnosed as positive for COVID-19; so he’s home quarantined. He doesn’t have a fever; he’s weak and achy, but getting better. Because he was positive, our offices had to be closed for a few weeks and anyone who had been in contact with him during a certain period of time had to quarantine themselves off.
That must have been a scary thing to hear.
It was, but mostly I think we’re focused on the nuns who lived in the convent right across the street from us. Three of them are in the hospital, two in intensive care, and it’s heartbreaking. They have done such good work for so long.
What has been the hardest part of this time for you?
Other than worrying about the people around me who are physically sick, I found out last week that I’m a casualty of the economic part of COVID-19. As of July 1, my position has been reduced to part-time and I’ll lose all my benefits.
Did you ever discern the priesthood?
With all the kids and grandkids in my family, I knew that I was going to grow up to be a dad. Twenty-two years ago, my siblings and I used to take my mother to the hospital for cancer treatments at St. Catherine’s before she died of multiple myeloma. While she was receiving this treatment one day, we gave her communion. It was so positive and uplifting and when I walked out of the hospital I thought, “I’m going to do something for people like that one day.”
How did you meet your wife?
We actually worked for the same company and lived in the same apartment complex for years without knowing one another. There were two pools at the complex, and I still joke with her that she went to the wrong one for all those years and could have saved me three years worth of bad dates if she’d just gone to the one I went to. She went on a sailing trip with people I snowskied with during the winter. About a month after they got back from their trip, they wanted to get together to look through their pictures and play golf. Well, they knew I liked golf; so they called me and on the first tee is where I met my wife. I brought her back to that exact spot to propose, and we took pictures there the day of our wedding.
You applied to the diaconate in 2002 but were turned down. What were some of the things they asked you to do before you were accepted into the program?
Several things. For one, I needed to be more active in the parish ministry. I became a member of the parish council and taught in confirmation classes. I took some classes at Saint Francis Seminary because it had been a long time since I’d been in a classroom setting. It was disappointing at first but it ended up being such an important time. I got to know more people at the parish and how the parish works. I reapplied in 2004 and was ordained in 2009.
How has your ministry changed since the stay-at-home order went into effect?
My position at St. Charles is Pastoral Care and with that, I am constantly meeting with families and planning funerals. Now, I have funerals coming in and other than getting some basic information, I can’t do much with the families. That’s very hard. Most of them are opting to have cremation and have a Memorial Mass later on, not knowing when that will be. I still work a little with funeral directors, but not really with the families yet. Also part of my position at St Charles is that I bring the Eucharist to the homebound and I can’t do that anymore. I also do services at nearby nursing homes, and I can’t do that either. A lot of what I do has been cut out.
What does your day-to-day ministry look like now?
Basically, I answer the phones at St. Charles. Those of us on the staff are taking turns. A lot of people call to ask things like, if we’re offering confession (we aren’t) or people need help from the St. Vincent de Paul ministry. I get their information and pass it on, and I work with St. Vincent to get them food when they need it or help with bills they can’t pay. It’s a very scary time but we do what we can.
There’s been an overload of fear during this frightening time, but what good things have you seen in the midst of it?
Seeing people help one another and hearing stories of people helping one another. There’s been a lot of goodness. Also, seeing that it’s been so good for families. Families have really come together through this. Even families who aren’t living together, they are so desperate to be together that they get creative and make a point to talk on the phone or on video chat. I think it will change how we look at our families going forward. I think we’ll appreciate getting to be together.
What are you looking forward to getting back to when the stay at home order lifts?
Sports on television mostly. I’ve got all this time at home and nothing to watch. Going to a game or two will be so great; it feels weird not to at this time of year.