WHERE DID ALL THE TIME GO?
Just two short years ago I received a call from “Downtown” asking if I would be willing to house a “priest in residence” who would be getting a degree at the Seminary and would in return help us with Sacraments here at the parish. A short while later, Fr. Varghese crossed our threshold and brought his many gifts all the way from India to share with us.
Fr. Varghese studied harder than any student I have ever seen. He has been working on getting his Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.). The S.T.L. degree is a post-graduate ecclesiastical degree in pastoral theology with a focus on the New Evangelization. On many a trip in the middle of the night to let my dog out to do his business, I would see the light on in Fr. Varghese’s room. It was, once again, this studious man burning the midnight oil. He soon will complete his work and head back to serve in his home country.
Even though I look older than him, this brilliant man with more years on me in both age and priesthood has an uncanny ability to grasp onto things with a child-like spirit. Fr. Mark Prill and I had the opportunity to be with him as he first experienced snow. While walking back to the rectory, I pounded on Fr. Varghese’s window and yelled for him to come and see the accumulation that just dropped. Fr. Mark and I didn’t even wear jackets, but simply wore short sleeve shirts. Fr. Varghese on the other hand, clad in a parka, gloves, ski hat, and scarf, looked like he was ready for a polar expedition. By the way, for his first snow ball fight, he had a pretty good arm.
Fr. Varghese did not just watch the floats when I took him to his first Thanksgiving Day Parade, but lead my family in a conga line on Woodward Avenue. It was like being in the final credits of a Bollywood movie.
Our staff took him out to give him his first experience with both bowling and bocce ball. I will never forget when I handed Fr. Varghese the ball and said “throw it down the lane and try to knock down the pins.” Seconds after touching a bowling ball for the very first time, he proceeded to get his first strike! Ok, to be honest it was his only strike, but again, squealing like a kid, he got us all to experience a long lost zest for life.
Fr. Eric had a great idea to take him sledding last weekend. Both my tailbone and Fr. Eric’s knees will never be the same, but again we walked away (barely) having experienced Fr. Varghese’s ability to bring joy to any situation.
As priests, as staff, and as a parish community, we have loved having Fr. Varghese bring us closer to Christ. We will especially miss his contagious laughter, his Joy for the Lord, and his excitement as he discovered something “American”.
On the weekend of March 9-10, Father Varghese will be available after every Mass. Please join the staff and I that weekend in honoring Fr. Varghese sharing his gifts and enriching us.
P.S. After seeing his reaction when I bought him his first “Slurpee”, I can’t imagine that they have them in India. Remind me to tell him that if he sells them at his parish, he will make CSA in no time!