Priestly Good News is All Around Us
I was sitting at a red light in center city last week, and as I sat in traffic, I saw a priest I knew out on the sidewalk, assisting an apparent homeless man to a nearby food truck to buy him lunch.
I know the priest and it was not surprising to me, this show of love and compassion. It is who Father is. Kind. Generous. Caring. A friend to all. Christ-like.
That beautiful snapshot stuck with me all last week, offsetting my anger over large, sensational (and deserved) headlines and continuing sad news (and equally bad reporting) about priests and bishops of our Church.
As I drove home, I was uplifted knowing that THAT priest’s ministry is the norm, not the exception, and I thought of so many good, inspiring priests you will never, ever read about in the Philadelphia media. With that in mind, I offer this list of priests about whom you will never, ever read about in the Philly press. I could fill this bulletin with similar good stories about special priests.
Fr. Wil Pashley, St. Barbara pastor: Celebrating his 55th year as a priest and has served in the inner-city most of his life, the last 18 years in West Philly. An expert on Human Relations and Urban Ministry.
Fr. Ferdinand Buccaforni, pastor emeritus of St. Donato, still serving the faithful in his 60th year as a priest, now at St. Colman in Ardmore. Ordained by Cardinal O’Hara in 1958 !!! Legendary.
Fr. Frank Sabbatini, retired, pastor emeritus, St Lucy. Also in his 55th year of ministry, now at Holy Savior in Norristown.
Fr. Sean Loomis, parochial vicar, Annunciation parish. Just five years a priest (2013), Fr Sean ministers to the deaf of our archdiocese, signing the Mass and bringing the sacraments and love to the deaf and hearing impaired of our city.
Fr. Steve Thorne, St. Martin de Porres, a Neumann University chaplain and beloved leader and former director of the Office for Black Catholics and a powerful witness for love of neighbor and racial equality in our city and nation for his 20 years as a priest.
Msgr. John O’Brien, retired: 57 years a blind priest, never allowing his lack of vision to prevent him from serving the Lord and His people. So inspiring and courageous.
Fr. John Pidgeon, St. Teresa of Calcutta: 31 years a priest and pastor, now ministering to the imprisoned at Graterford Prison with zeal and mercy.
Fr. Joe Coffey (’96) and Fr. Joe Lea (2004): Priests of our archdiocese serving as a U.S. Navy and U.S. Army chaplain, respectively.
Fr. Mike Lonergan, retired pastor emeritus, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Bensalem. Celebrating his 25th anniversary as a priest after losing his wife many years ago. Father of nine children and a spiritual father to all. Likewise, my Pope St. John XXIII classmate (and high school classmate), Fr. Jim Cardosi, answered God’s call after losing his wife Cindi. Fr. Jim recently spoke at our St. Gen’s Men retreat, sharing his journey to the priesthood following a distinguished career as a P-3 pilot in the Navy. Father of five children and a product of nearby St. Titus parish.
Fr. Doug McKay, ordained in 1982, founder of Our House Ministries in the Grays Ferry section of Philadelphia in 1997, still serving as chaplain, using the power of prayer and the sacraments in outreach to those struggling with addiction.
We all need a shot of positive and inspiration these days, and I pray you don’t have to look very far to find it and be renewed in the power that our Lord Jesus Christ works through the good works of His priests and deacons, so wonderfully exemplified by so many in our archdiocese.