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Monday, March 7, 2016

A Priestly Farewell

Happy Sunday, dear readers.

Today is Laetare Sunday, a day that marks the halfway point of Lent. Traditionally, the priests wear pink ("rose colored", as they like to emphasize) vestments on this day in celebration, and I in my zeal, did my makeup to match their vestments.

But today was not all joyous. For the past few weeks that we've been going to our other church run by our faithful Carmelites, I noticed that my favorite priest's name had been removed from the bulletin listing of who was on staff. I knew he was sent to go teach budding priests up at the Mt. Angel Abbey in Oregon, but it was supposed to be a temporary job. Today I learned from the homeboy padre that my favorite priest had basically been called to work there full time and was no longer serving our parish.

It may seem petty, but I was genuinely sad to learn this bit of news. He had been on staff since my hubby and I resumed attending our other church in 2013 and he usually led the evening last-call Mass of which we were regulars due to my job schedule at the time. I genuinely looked forward to Masses where he was the celebrant because of all the priests I've encountered here in this diocese, he was one of the few who had a strong, bonafide connection with the Holy Spirit. I knew this because there were times when I would be sitting in the pews with an issue on my mind, and voila! The homily related to the issue, even though I had not told anyone about it. His sermons were highly inspiring and there were a few lessons which I learned from him that I continue to utilize in my daily life. It would have been nice if there had been an announcement made regarding his future with our parish and a final Mass scheduled for the parish to say goodbye. It seems kinda dirty that things worked out this way.

My favorite Carmelite priest (in white), Fr. Thomas Koller. This was at his ordination anniversary Mass this past June.

My husband, on the other hand, was not surprised about my favorite priest's fate. He regarded our other church as being too dumb for a priest of his intellectual caliber, and that his gifts and talent were better served schooling monks in a monastery. I understood where he was coming from, and truthfully, there is a serious IQ gap between most of the parishioners and the priests. But as it were, one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to instruct the ignorant. If the priests won't do it, who will?

If you should somehow find your way to this corner of the internet, Fr. Thomas, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for your wonderful sermons and your pastoral care. You went above and beyond the call of duty to minister to us in the parish and share the intelligence and insight that the Holy Spirit has immensely blessed you with (and if you happened to consume hallucinogenic substances in the seminary to help you reach those insights, I'm totally cool with that. I'm no stranger to the beneficial uses of drugs, given the man I married). I will always keep your lessons about God not being an ATM, preparedness for Communion, and the nature of schadenfreude with me for as long as I live. I'm sorry that we were not able to say goodbye to you in person, but my husband and I wish you all the best on your new endeavor teaching the next generation of priests in the Benedictine Abbey. I'll miss you, but you will always be in our prayers. I hope that you become a saint one day. You've earned that title many times over.

Farewell, Fr. Thomas. God bless you.

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