It may seem a strange thing that I should write a blog post about a priest I have never met, but because he was known to so many of my friends, I feel a vicarious pain. I don't really know where to start, other than perhaps to refer you to the wonderful article John-Henry Westen wrote on his death here.
Long story short, here was in many ways your ideal young man, who followed the straight and narrow path to the priesthood with the FSSP, in which he had the grace to have experienced two years of priestly ministry until he was shot dead last night in his church in what appears to have been a robbery. As I said, I had never the privilege of meeting him. Had I had the honour I might have painted him with the dismissive FSSP brush I use to dismiss people who are different from me. But, perhaps that smile I have been seeing in so many pictures splashed by his friends over Facebook today, would have opened up something more to me than a guy who simply had views about the liturgy I do not share. I can imagine having some things in common with a smile like that.
I feel sorry for his family, his friends, his order. I feel sorry about what he must have gone through over those doubtlessly anxious last few minutes he experienced on earth last night, something hard for anybody, but perhaps more so for a guy who appears not to have known the violent passions that drive so many of us awful human beings to do what was done to him last night. He was just a kid, I can certainly say for a young man ten years my junior. It's not right and it's not fair that a good life, as it must have been, which lived to give glory to God and consolation to his fellow Christian, be struck down so prematurely. Over the years I have gotten to know many of his former OLSWA classmates. Not a one had a bad word to say about him, and I have heard many, many tales over the years about alumni!
No, I never met him. But I met so many people who knew him and cared for him. And, as is the case with every priest, he is one of ours, one of mine, in this One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Anyway, peace to you Father, now and forever, and peace to those whose hearts your passing has left sad.