Before getting into the meat of this message I want to thank and congratulate Leighann Lang and Rita Rolfes for taking their vision and making it the wonderful reality that was Spring Fling. Their initial work began months ago, which explains why the First Annual Spring Fling felt like an established event.
I believe the Spring Fling dovetailed beautifully with a very special Parish Appreciation Mass. When you see anyone who took part in either event please thank them wholeheartedly for the impact of their work. And if you are unsure of the impression this day left, consider this comment from a young student as he waited to play a game: “Well, Spring Fling is officially the best day of my life!”
During April 30th's Mass and festivities I was struck by something that tied into reading I’ve been doing. For the past year I’ve been studying George Washington, and have come to the conclusion that the most powerful moment in his fierce and proud history (and maybe our country’s) was his gentlest and most subtle: he said goodbye.
The colony’s greatest land speculator, most decorated war hero, undisputed choice for President, and living precedent looked at everything he had sacrificed his life for…then humbly said farewell. He had served two terms as President, but he could’ve served until he died. Heck some wanted to name him royalty, but he somehow wrapped his mind around two things simultaneously: that he was the primary architect of a most intriguing and important history, and that the power of this position would not change him: It was time to teach a final lesson.
In the musical Alexander Hamilton the song, “One Last Time” documents this moment well as Hamilton is appalled and distressed at Washington’s decision to leave the presidency. The petulant Hamilton urges Washington to reconsider, begs him to stay, gets angry at the reality of the decision. Hamilton is each one of us in the midst of dramatic change, understandably pained and confused. Washington replies with his usual composure, “Let’s teach them how to say goodbye, one more time, you and I.”
All of this history hit me as I watched so many of you stand for Monsignor Tucker at the Parish Appreciation Mass. All of these lessons surged to the forefront as I watched Monsignor, Father Fulton and Father Zimmer accept your love and well-wishes. The reality of all of this enveloped me as I read the powerful letter started by parents in support of Cathedral School and our direction. It occurs to me that each of you have various emotions you’re sorting through: Monsignor or Father has sat at bedsides for your family; has celebrated your wedding; has baptized your children; has buried your loved ones. Tucker may be the only Pastor you’ve known. All of your emotions are natural; embrace them. Then let’s teach them how we say goodbye, you and I.
First, we will teach “them” – our current priests – how much they are loved. We will be genuinely sad to see them leave, but joyous in the hope for all of our futures.
Next, we will teach “them” – Monsignor Nemec, Fr. Clark and Fr. Wiley – what it means to be Eagles by how we say goodbye. As they witness and hear of our outpouring of love and support for Monsignor Tucker, Fr. Fulton and Fr. Zimmer they will get their first lesson regarding our Eagle Standard, and inevitably be inspired to live it. Let our goodbye show them we are a community willing and ready to love and connect in a special way: as an Eagle Family of families.
Listen, I can barely talk about Monsignor Tucker without choking up. He is a heroic figure to me. A bit like Washington, he both embraces his influence on thousands of people, and remains humbly unchanged by his reach. I’ve witnessed all of these departing priests show up to meetings or social events minutes after sitting at the bedside of a dying parishioner or grieving family. Despite all of those personal emotions, I feel the highest honor we can give them is to consider that we are “...from this period forward considered the actors in a most conspicuous theater, which seems to be peculiarly designated by Providence for the display of human greatness and felicity.” (George Washington, 1783)
Let’s teach them how we say goodbye, you and I.