Sunday, December 14, 2008


You may have heard this past week of the passing of Avery Cardinal Dulles of whom it was said, “he was a reader’s writer and the believer’ theologian.” He also had the nick name of Dull, Duller, and Dulles as his speaking tone was soft and very technical. But he was a brilliant man and Catholic to the core.

I once had an occasion to talk with him. He came to Saint Mary Seminary to give a talk and to the seminarians and somehow between his formal talk in the theater of the seminary and the dinner in the refectory I was left alone with him. I have no idea how it happened but it did.

I was enthralled. He was perfectly willing to jabber on with a lowly seminarian on just about any topic I threw at him. As we talked I offered to escort him to the refectory and we walked arm and arm down to where the rest of the crowd was gathering for the dinner honoring our important guest.

We made our way in his brilliant mind caught a thread that he would not let go of. We was saying something very important to me but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was for what happened next.

As we were talking he took to leaning against one of the refectory tables. I remember thinking that this was not wise for the large round tables only had only one central leg holding them up. I do remember thinking, “He shouldn’t be doing that but he’s Avery Dulles, who am I to say anything to him?”

Somebody brought us some coffee and we continued to dialogue, I enthralled and he leaning on a one legged table. He finally leaned back too far and the table tipped propelling forward spilling hot coffee down the front of my shirt and landing him in my arms. I suppressed screams of pain and righted the man who kept talking as if nothing at all had happened. Someone offered me a towel which I refused and kept my focus on him. After all I was thinking, “Oh my gosh, Avery Dulles spilled coffee on me. I will never wash this shirt again.”

God rest you merry Cardinal Dulles!


frival said...

Now that is a story not quickly forgotten! He will indeed be missed.

Anonymous said...

Amen, God rest him.

:-) Wow, you make him sound like a Jesuit. Husband's aunt went to Fordham, so we got their newsletters when we moved her here; I always enjoyed the Cardinal's writings.

Geesh-- JP II, Cardinal Dulles.. I'm wondering whom you haven't met!