This Friday was Fr. Mario’s 50th Birthday.
This weekend after every Mass, we celebrated with him.
One would think that it would be enough to show him how much he’s appreciated and valued, but I don’t think so…
Not a party or two or three would ever suffice to tell this Man how much he means to us, to me.
I remember the very first Mass we attended at St. Joseph the Worker in Thornhill. It was Christmas. Christmas Day.
We used to drive to Etobicoke to Transfiguration, a Beautiful Church! It looks like an inverted Canoe! It is so warm, so welcoming…AND it has Perpetual Adoration as well!
We were Parishioners there for quite a while. I Lectored there, we signed up for Perpetual Adoration there, my Husband completed RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) there. You see, he was never Confirmed. He attended Catholic Schools his whole life, but was not really an active practicing Catholic past the age of 13 or 14, thus, he was never Confirmed. This is Exactly what Fr. Mario is always concerned about…the 80% of Catholics that aren’t Practicing. But, that’s for an entirely different Post. 😉
As I was saying, on Christmas Morning, we really didn’t want to drive all the way to Etobicoke, and Hubby knew of this Parish. It was his Parish, geographically speaking, when he used to live with his Parents. So, we went to St. Joseph the Worker. It was Packed!
At first, there seemed to be nothing really special about this Parish. The Church itself was not as Beautiful as St. David’s or even Transfiguration. The Mass started, and right before the Gospel, I had already resolved not to go back there, I was basically unimpressed. I Missed the Warmth of Transfiguration. The Coziness of it. Then, Fr. Mario Proclaimed the Gospel and started his Homily…
I was in awe! He was so Blunt! So Direct! He did not sugar coat or tip-toe around what he wanted to say, he simply Said It! I Loved It!
One has to respect an Individual who is not afraid to say it like it is. I lack that quality and therefore appreciate and admire it in others. And believe you me, Fr. Mario has it!
He stood up at the Ambo as the Good Shepherd guiding his Flock. He was keeping his Sheep in line. And boy do we need it!
Over the years, he has only gotten better and better.
Sure, there are people that complain because of his word choice at times, because he’s too blunt…but come on now…The Truth is a Bitter Pill to Swallow! No one, I mean NO ONE likes to be told that what they’re doing is wrong. No one likes to be criticized. No one likes to be chastised. But we NEED it! How else are we ever going to head toward that elusive straight and narrow? Much less walk it! We Need a Good, Strong Shepherd, and Thanks be to God, we have that!
On a Personal level, I owe him so much. He has Guided me. Given me Courage. Given me Opportunities to Grow. He has set my Husband Straight and Intervened on more than one occasion. No matter how busy he has been…He has been a Father to us…He has genuinely lived his Vocation and Loved us all…
God Bless You, Father Mario…and may Our Blessed Mother Continue to Guide you, Protect you and Intercede for you. May the Holy Spirit always Fill you so that you may continue to Guide us All…Your Lost, Stubborn, Reckless, Ungrateful Sheep…
Wonderful post honouring such a worthy man! So inspiring to read… Thank you.
I grew up totally unaware of the a priest’s “better half”. You don’t need to listen long to realize that Fr. Mario really does let that “better half” – his mystical spouse – work through him. Since understanding it in him, I have come to rely on it in every priest I meet. It has opened many doors to growth in my faith.