Thursday, March 31, 2016



The dead spent the night at my place last night.  This is not unusual only for a very small group of people I would imagine.  For me it was quite unusual.

My over night guest was Fr. Ted.  I know his soul is on its journey and all that, but it still seemed kind of rude to leave his body on its own.  I was joking with the servers that we were going to sign up to keep vigil with Father all through the night and that they needed to sign up for an hour.  Their relief was palpable when they found out I was joking.

But, God bless them, some of the adults asked, “Should we?  I’d put in some time.”  I was sure, however, that he would be just fine.

I did go over and visit.  The church was locked and quiet and we could chat for a moment.  Some priest friends came over last night and we went to pray compline with Father Ted.  It was solemn and, at least I thought, kind of moving.  We even closed with Fr. Ted’s famous lines, “For protection at home, for protection at work, for protection in the car, and protection from the Blessed Virgin Mary!”  I don’t think he ever got the irony of that wording.

The funeral is today (11:00AM).  Unfortunately Father has been off of the radar screen for a spell and most of the people who would have been associated well with him have gone on before him.  There is a priest, Fr. Oleksiak, who has been doing a Yeoman’s job of taking care of him these last few years.  The Bishop will be here.  Despite the fear that there will be more ministers at the funeral than attendees, he will still come.  Father was, after all, a true son of the Bishop.

I love my parish.  There was no way to announce to anybody that Father had died and that there were services so we relied on work of mouth and they turned out yesterday for the vigil.  Most did not know him or know him well at all.  That is charity and a work of mercy.  How  proud I am to be their pastor.

I was afforded the privilege of preaching vespers yesterday.  I started off with this quote:

“Priests should look upon death as one of the last functions of the priesthood. It is their last Mass. 

This mortal body with which you were born at the incarnation was, for you, O Jesus, only the material of the sacrifice. 

This is what this mortal body should be for each of those who share your priesthood. They must make use of it, as you did, to preach the truth, to edify men. But the essential, sacerdotal use they must make of it is to die. … 

They should, then, prepare for it as they prepare to celebrate Mass, because the death of a priest is a Mass, united to your death and consummated in yours for the salvation of mankind.”

Fr. Gaston Courtois

Rest in peace Fr. Ted


Anonymous said...

You are a good egg, Charlie Brown.

Anonymous said...

Fr Oleski did an excellent job on his homily today. He obviously knew Fr. Swirski as well as anyone could and obviously took very good care of him. It was so interesting to hear of Fr.'s life and to appreciate all that he overcame and remained so strong. I would bet no one has said as many Hail Mary's as he has and we were blessed to be Blessed by him.

Chris P. said...

I don't *think* you're fishing for a compliment here, but just in case, we're pretty lucky to have you as a pastor.

Seriously - one thing that I took from the last two days is how often he was faced with tough dangerous situations, and how he made choices that put his life at risk if he thought it was the right thing to do for the Church.

I'm reminded of how Jesus told the three in the garden to pray that they may not be put to the test... and how Fr. Ted was in positions we would be in our right mind to pray that we not be put in.

Chris P. said...

In all seriousness, and quite selfishly, I hope someone puts in a fraction of the time rounding up people to pray for my soul after I die as you have for Fr. Ted.

Nan said...

@ Chris P, he's fishing for people to go to his funeral. My dad wass part of the American legion color guard so he went to funerals all the time, including the day before he died. A guy from the legion told me he wasn't going to dad's funeral, but when he realized that dad would've gone to his, he decided to go.

Chris P. said...

Oh boy... If I say too much nice stuff it's totally going to ruin my image....

Granted, to a point, yes he is. And were this the only time it happened, I'd mark it down as fishing and call it a day.

But, watching him work day in and day out - in two separate parishes 40 miles apart.. Watching him be the only priest I saw consistently in six years of working bingo - sometimes to mingle with who was playing regardless of their faith - and sometimes just to thank the people who worked it... And at that time I was a twenty something and he was a thirty something and our ages combined were a couple decades short of everyone else in the room... Watching him lay mulch instead of just expecting volunteers to do it...

All this on top of the daily grind of his chosen profession... And as much as its a calling, it's a day in day out, weeks with no days off job....

Two posts ago I made a smart alec comment about fishing for a compliment because I can be kind of a smart a**, but I've lived a bunch of places and belonged to a bunch of parishes... And Fr. V is as good a man and as competent a pastor as I've had the pleasure of working with.

So, while he was undoubtedly fishing for attendance, he also undoubtedly would have done it for countless other people without batting an eye. And as much as this parish has great parishioners and as good a sense of community as I've ever seen in a parish, the church was full for the passing of a good man and a good priest, who was lucky enough to spend his viable retirement years in a parish with an exceptional pastor.