Search This Blog

Monday, October 1, 2018

Nabi Sayeth: The Master Will Proclaim, “Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant.”

Nabi  sayeth...A life is a sacred thing, a gift from God. Any philosophy, political system or social group that denies the sanctity of each human life through prejudice runs contrary to Catholic thinking. 

There have been times, however, in recent history when a type of “classism” existed in certain Catholic seminaries. 

A clergyman once told Nabi about a sickening experience that occurred at the school he attended, one of the oldest in the country located in Baltimore.

One year a 55 year old widower dared to enter the school’s hallowed halls. He was a native of Littleton, WV named Ken Daugherty. Ken had graduated many years earlier from WVU, married and headed north to go to work for the Uniroyal Tire Company becoming in time one of its top guns in the area of marketing. He and his wife while living in Connecticut raised five children in the Catholic faith. Sadly, Mrs. Daugherty developed Leukemia and after a relatively short battle succumbed to the disease.

Ken began to feel a calling that he had first experienced as a young boy...to become a Catholic priest. With his children all successfully raised, he decided to apply to his home diocese in WV. After a lengthy interview he was told by bishop Hodges that he was too old for his diocese (Ken was 55 at the time). Not to be deterred, Ken, a member of the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut, applied to Archbishop Whealon who happily accepted Ken as a seminary candidate. 

Entering a school filled with twenty-somethings would have been intimidating for most fifty-year old men, but that was not the case for Kenny. He LOVED all people. But the love was not returned by the majority of students, and especially, the faculty. They just didn’t know what to do with a fifty-five year old man. 

Ken was a “regular guy.” What he lacked in theological sophistication, he more than made up for with his work experience, life experience (as husband and father), and love for the Lord. Ken possessed a simple, trusting faith.

In the thinking of the school administration, Ken’s liabilities far outweighed what they could see as his gifts. He was too old, too conservative, too traditional and much too opinionated. He did not buy into the very liberal “company line”, and his worst deficit of all….he did not have the Lavender GQ look. Ken was just a “regular guy.”

The clergyman told Nabi that his room was just across the hall from Ken’s. Ken was a frequent visitor and depended on his neighbor, an upperclassman, for tutoring. He struggled with his studies and the faculty showed him neither patience nor mercy. 

In time, as the pressure was increased by the faculty on Ken in a weeding out scheme, the quality of his personal hygiene and dress began to decline. He was afraid. He just wanted  to be a priest and the odds were stacked against him simply because of his age. In one of the make-or-break courses taught by a most demanding and unreasonable priest, Ken found his  hopes for priesthood on the chopping block. His neighbor drilled and drilled test material but Ken’s brain was so overloaded with fear of failure that new information would not stick. He went into the final exam terrified. He failed miserably with a very low score and a snide comment from the priest afterward saying that he needed to find another vocation. Ken exploded. No one, no priest or plumber was going to deprive him of what God was calling him to do. 

Ken picked up the phone, called his Archbishop and told him what had happened and his leader was furious. He thanked Ken for his hard work and called the rector of the seminary informing him that irregardless of the outcome of Ken’s academic performance, the Archbishop would ordain him upon graduation.

Ken’s being relaxed but the behavior of the faculty became passive-aggressively apathetic towards him. It was clear that they just wanted rid of him and that would happen three years later but not without more pain. 

One morning as Ken’s neighbor was in the front office saying his farewell to the seminary’s long-term secretary, Francis, Ken came bursting through the office door. He was red-hot enraged. He had just gone into the shower room to get himself cleaned up for the day where he witnessed two young ordained transitional deacons, one from Erie and one from Nashville,  in the act of sodomy. Both men were only a couple of weeks away from priestly ordination. Ken demanded that Francis give him the phone numbers of the bishops of the deacon’s dioceses. He screamed that he had spent his time struggling to get through the seminary program while the two younger men breezed through their studies as they lived immoral lives.

The two men were booted by their bishops, defrocked as deacons and refused priesthood ordination. 

In a couple of years Ken completed his studies and was ordained a Catholic priest at the age of 64 with his adult children and grandchildren in attendance. The day after saying his first mass, he suffered a fatal heart attack while saying mass at the altar in the parish where he had just been stationed. 

In a place where study, faith and love were to be lived and celebrated, he had experienced rejection, ostracism and gross immorality. But in the eyes of Jesus and his parishioners, Ken was a faithful servant who because of his perseverance and faith was raised to a very high place in the Kingdom. In the words of our Mother Mary found in Luke 1:

                                  
And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.

The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name

His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.

He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.

He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.

The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,

according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

May Father Kenny, holy priest of God, Rest In Peace!

2 comments:

Susan Matthiesen said...

Meanwhile the two gay seminarians from your post two days ago on September 29th, Charlie Mitchell and Paige Blakely, now - 35 years later - own a nice house together in New Smyrna Beach, FL (Diocese of Orlando). The house is in the name of THE BLAKELY & MITCHELL TRUST (formed in Oct of 2010...property ownership in Florida is public record and can be found on the Internet.) Exactly where did Paige and Charlie get enough money to have a Trust Fund? Did they each inherit money? Skim parish donations? Deposit private donations from parishioners meant for a particular purpose into their TRUST FUND? The amount of money in that Trust Fund will never be known.

Fr Charlie Mitchell is pastor of the enormous Orlando parish, St Mary Magdalen, which also has an elementary school. Whereas most churches in Orlando have one or two priests (my own small parish has only one priest who does everything saying all Masses and hearing all confessions himself) St Mary Magdalen has FOUR priests and SIX Deacons and an additional TWENTY THREE people on staff. Fr Charlie has power indeed.

Jamie Kudla said...

Father Ken was my cousin. Yes, he was strong in his convictions, faith, and love of God and his family. This blog makes it sound like he passed away right after he said his first mass. This is not true. He married my husband and I in 1989. What a good man he was!

Jamie Kudla