From the Pastor: Even More Excitement!
Last week I wrote about the excitement we had here at the parish with the water going out during our chant camp and with a visiting priest staying at the rectory. This week I have even more stories that are at least somehow connected to that week’s activities. As I mentioned, the visiting priest, Fr. Nick Ward, was in town to celebrate a family wedding. One of his sisters, Maggie, was marrying one of my nephews, Ryan. I am trying to figure out just how to describe the new family relationships this brings about. Maggie must now be my niece-in-law. Since Father Ward is her brother, he, too, is related to me, but how do I describe this family link? Calling him “the brother of my niece-in-law” is too much of a mouthful. Plus, people who saw him wearing a cassock might mistake that for that habit and think I called him a Religious brother. So I might have to clarify that he is her biological brother and also a priest by calling him “brother Father of my niece-in-law.” But then they may think that he is a Religious brother who was given the name “Father” when he took his vows. So perhaps turning that phrase around a bit and calling him “Father brother of my niece-in-law” would be better. But that sounds like “Brother” is Father’s last name. So at this point let me try something much more simple. A priest is called “Father” and this priest is now an in-law to me. So I will simply call him my Father-in-law! No, no, no, that would certainly confuse people.
But the confusion in describing Father’s relation to me is only the beginning. There is also the confusing matter of Father’s father. Let me explain. The man who walked Maggie down the aisle at her wedding was dressed in black and wore a Roman collar. You see, her father is a Catholic deacon. (I think there were a lot of people on this side of the family who were a little bit puzzled by that sight!) Deacon Paul Ward is also now related to me as an in-law. Once again, something like, “the deacon father of my niece-in-law” seems too complicated and also might be misunderstood as if stating that the deacon’s last name is “Father.” Hmmm. Since the father of a niece is an uncle, through Maggie the deacon becomes my uncle-in-law. The father of a father is a grandfather so through Father the deacon becomes my grandfather-in-law. Combining those two relationships, since Maggie and Father are siblings (how strange that her brother is also her Father!), perhaps I can just describe him as my deacon-uncle-grandfather-in-law, which should make everything perfectly clear!
Back to storytelling now and I’ll worry about relationships another time. After the rehearsal dinner, from across the parking lot, I could see that my car’s brake lights were on. How odd. Was somebody in the car stepping on the brake pedal? No. The lights were just on. I was sure that they hadn’t been on when we left the rehearsal and headed out to the restaurant, since I approached the car from the rear that time, too, and would have noticed, just as I did this time. The brake pedal wasn’t stuck. The activation switch under the pedal wasn’t frozen up. I couldn’t see any blown fuses. I didn’t want to drive with my brake lights constantly lit since any driver following me would never know when I was actually braking. But Fr. Dorvil, who had come with me, and I had to get home. So I tried taking the back roads to avoid causing an accident. And I found out how many roads are closed due to construction. Even Hanna was closed on the other side of the Interstate. Neither Google Maps nor Waze showed any road closures in the area, yet one after another intersection was cordoned off. Fortunately, we eventually made it home safe and sound but then had to disconnect the battery so that it wouldn’t be drained by the morning.
The next morning, after my usual schedule of Mass, confessions, and adult Catechism class, I only had a short time to try fixing it before needing to get to the wedding at the Jesuit High School chapel. I used every tool I could find to twist, bang, pry, and smash as many parts as I could, hoping something would make the brake lights work properly again. Nothing worked, so I needed a ride. Fr. Ward had to get to the wedding very early, so he was gone already. I looked for Fr. Dorvil, hoping to catch a ride, but I couldn’t find him anywhere. Fortunately, Anders was grabbing some needed chant sheets from the office so I asked him to pick me up at the rectory when he headed out. Before he got there, one of our parishioners came to check out the car, diagnosed the problem as probably a bad break switch (the car is over 20 years old, so I suppose parts may start wearing out about now), and offered to disconnect it, go to the auto parts store, and replace it with a new one while I was at the Nuptial Mass. Yes, there are some wonderful people around here! Anders got me to the wedding early enough to still help get things set up. Poor Fr. Dorvil, who was around the whole time even though I couldn’t find him, waited patiently for me so that we could drive together since he knew that the car wasn’t fixed. But he managed to get to the wedding on time, too. And when I got back home, the brake lights were fixed, the battery was attached, and all was well with the world.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka