"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Monday, December 30, 2002 'Dutiful Father, Worthy Man'
Hartford Courant columnist and former altar boy Jeff Jacobs pens a fine tribute to a priest who was a kind mentor.
Reynolds was in charge of the altar boys. He'd counsel us. He'd encourage us. At a time and place when Catholic school discipline was harsh and too many clergymen were one-way thinkers - their way - a young priest's only rebuttal was to demonstrate spiritual leadership and camaraderie were not mutually exclusive gifts.
Father Reynolds took us to Reds games. He took us to Red Sox games. Two of us here, four of us there. We'd be gone all day. A night game in Boston meant we'd be home late that night. He'd come over to my family's house. We'd play pingpong. We'd play cribbage. He didn't let you win just because you were a kid. In return, you felt good about doing your best in church. I loved being the thurifer. It didn't necessarily bring you closer to God, but it did bring you closer to a pack of matches. You lit the incense, got that sweet smoke coming out of the ornate gold device. My Latin may have been sketchy, but man, I could clang the thurible against the chain in such hypnotic cadence you would have thought St. Peter was coming.
There is a library search built into our computer and, with a couple of keystrokes, every word that has appeared in The Courant in the past dozen years is at our disposal. The instant archive is a miracle. The number of stories it retrieves is indicative of the grasp an individual subject holds on the public.
The year is 2002. The request is for stories including "Catholic" and "abuse."
A total of 436 articles in The Courant appear.
The second request is for "Catholic" and "goodness."
Three articles appear.
And, finally, "Catholic" and "godliness."
This has not been a good year for the Catholic Church.
There have been so many stories of gross sexual misconduct involving priests, so many stories of hierarchical coverups, that the church's most powerful figure in New England was toppled. You tell people you were an altar boy these days and the first thing out of their mouth is a question about whether you were fondled.
Father Reynolds never laid a hand on me. Never laid a hand on any of us. Didn't make inappropriate remarks. Didn't ply us with alcohol and drugs. Didn't hand us pornography.
Maybe this is why I was compelled to call him this Christmas week, to somehow differentiate what we all know from what I lived. But, wow, what do you say to a priest who you haven't talked to in three decades? How do you ask the tough question to a guy who remembers you as a kid?
The answer comes quickly.
"How wonderful to hear from you," he bellows into the phone.More