Day 23: I am Thankful for My Friend The Priest

Friday night, Dan and I had the rare treat of having dinner with one of our favorite people, the priest who married us.

We do not get to see him nearly enough, although we do manage to keep in touch, and, thankfully, every year or two years, we do actually get to sit down and share a meal and some wine.

Ray is what I wish every priest were. He’s delightful, humble, and completely irreverent without being blasphemous. He takes his vocation seriously, and his career as a teacher and chaplain at a local university infuses him with energy. He communicates his love and affection, not just for the students, but for the world in every gesture.

And, oh, the conversation. Ray is a consummate conversationalist. He asks questions about our lives. Not only did he marry us more than twelve years ago now, but he also baptized our three children. He came to the hospital when Gabriel died. When I asked him if Gabriel needed to be baptized, he said to me, “No. He passed directly into a world of love, with no original sin.” His steady presence was such a balm, and I know it meant the world to my husband.

We talked of our lives, our jobs, and our children. Ray reflected on 9/11 with us, and we talked a bit about the Kennedy assassination (the night we had dinner was the 50th anniversary). His views about his students, and about the young people at college today in general, was very sharp. We talked about the dangers of helicopter parenting and entitlement, and what fruits it was bearing now. He could write a book!

It was a rare night for us. Dinner and conversation with a man who has never left our hearts or our lives, even though we go so long without seeing each other. And, oh, the laughter. You probably don’t think of priests as funny, or as down-to-earth. I hope I don’t cause him any trouble or embarrassment to say this is a priest behind which you can see the man: profane, but never prideful, longing for a Church of the people and of love. He’s a huge fan of Pope Francis — he was palpably excited when conversation turned to him.

Anyway, Ray, I can’t thank you enough. God has blessed us by giving us you, and I’m so glad that years ago, Dan said, “Well, if we’re going to get married at the university chapel, I’d like to you meet a friend of mine. I think he’d do it.”

I’m so glad you did. (Oh, and email me that poem!)

Do you get to have dinner with a funny priest? If not, who is your favorite person that you don’t get to see enough?