My Priest Remembered

This post is not about religion.

It’s about a memory.

It just happens to have a religious connection.

I was raised Catholic.

I know what I know about the Catholic church through my own experiences and life.  I don’t write this about the church or the many issues the church faces.   We hear a lot of bad about a lot of priests.   I am happy to say that I don’t have any thing like that to report.

This isn’t about that.

This is about a man.

I have a wonderful recollection about my childhood priest.

Father Schmidt.

I loved him.

We went to a Catholic grade school.  We could, and did, walk next door to attend church on a regular basis through out the week.   As students we participated in the church.  Sang in the church.   Had our sacraments as a class at the church.

And we had Fr. Schmidt.

Visually I remember him as a lean man, with coal black hair, a rather prominent nose, and in my eyes, very regal in his all black ‘regular’ clothes with the white collar peaking out.  Or very regal in his vestments as he led us through mass in church.

I remember feeling comfortable around him.  And I remember smiling when he walked into a room.

I remember him always being about.  In the school.  In the church.  On the playground.  I remember we all flocked to him.   As children should be able to do with their priest.

I remember loving him.

I remember he turned sixty when I was in grade school and we all made him cards.  I mimicked “60 Minutes” the TV show as my card for him.   It’s odd that I remember this at all.  Seeing as how my childhood memories seem very limited.  But I remember him clearly.

I remember the last time I saw him and told him I would be getting married, not in the Catholic church.   He had a cold, and was possibly more sick than that.  He was disappointed.

I moved away.

I never saw him again.  Though I have looked for him.  I suspect he has passed, as old as he must be now.

When my father died my brother walked in and held his hand down by his hip, waving from first one side, then the other.  As  he dropped his hand to  hip level, parallel to the ground wave he said “who am I?”

He kept doing it.  I had no idea I said.   He said “Father Schmidt!”

And I smiled again.

Remembering his smile as he walked from the back of the church to the front, to start us out with blessings and prayers.  And as he walked back down the center aisle, always dropping his hand to his hip and waving that low little wave to any of the children who’s eye he caught.   I wonder if the other kids always waited and wanted to be one of the lucky ones to catch his eye?

While the world focuses on black smoke and white smoke, or reads headlines about a child abused….

I take comfort in my memories of this man, this priest.

He served his congregation, his charges, his church, his God well.

I think he would have made a fabulous Pope!  And you bet I would be watching for that little wave from the balcony.