He was my first office-job boss. He confirmed me. He heard my first confession. He married me and Dom. He baptized our first child. He blessed the land on which we built our home. He was the first priest I ever saw drink a beer.
He was part of our family in so many ways that including him in everything from the most special of occasions to the most mundane came naturally. He often attended family holiday gatherings where he witnessed first-hand our wrapping paper mayhem.
I had the privilege of working for Father Dave twice. During my senior year in college I was an office assistant at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church where he was pastor. Later, I worked as his secretary in the Chancery of our diocese where he served as Vicar General. In our second working relationship he asked me only once to take some mail to his apartment which was located on the other side of our office building. Inside his home I confirmed what I had always suspected – that he lived simply and neatly with very little fluff.
Usually serious and pensive, Father Dave had a unique funny side. To this day he is the only priest who has ever shot me with a rubber band. I will never forget the look on his face as he peered around a filing cabinet, professionally wrapped the band over his cocked thumb and took aim.
Father Dave had his favorites, too. He was a staunch fan of the Dallas Cowboys and all things Star Wars. As I stooped to take a book from the bottom shelf in his office one day, I was shocked to find that I was face-to-face with a twelve-inch tall Yoda perched on the bookcase. I gave a startled gasp before laughing out loud, only to turn and find Father Dave rocking back in his chair, hands folded across his chest, nodding with a sly grin.
He was soft-spoken and witty, and he gave great consideration to his words before he spoke them. He was kind and hard working, gentle and good, quiet and reserved. He was far too young and his leaving came far too soon.
Soon will I rest, yes, forever sleep. Earned it I have. Twilight is upon me, soon night must fall…Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not.
Oh, Yoda, if only it were that easy.