Thursday, January 24, 2019

A Memory of Fr. Pat Mascarella

A Memory of Fr. Pat Mascarella

At our recent clergy formation days, I had the privilege to spend some time with Fr. Pat and his guide dog, Pace. Fr. Pat shared with me his vocation story about how he had the inkling to become a priest when he was in second grade. During those few formation days, I came to realize how Fr. Pat loved his dog Pace, not only as a guide dog but as a friend. Another memory comes to mind from almost 10 years ago at a priest retreat in Manresa.

At Manresa after evening prayer, I sat down to spend a little more time in the silence to pray. I had my eyes closed, but I began to hear a clicking and clacking noise. I opened my eyes and saw Fr. Pat Mascarella making his way through the chapel with his white cane. His sight had failed him gradually during the past two decades, and he could only distinguish light and darkness. He knew that the chapel had been remodeled since his last visit to Manresa, and he wanted to 'see' how the remodeling came out. He had made his way to the sanctuary and used his hands to feel the new altar and the ambo. He approached the tabernacle with his white cane and slowly began to feel the relief that is etched on to the tabernacle door. It is a relief of Jesus’ baptism by St. John the Baptist.

After he traced the figures on the door with his fingers, he placed his palm on the door of the tabernacle and stayed there in prayer. I don't know if he was aware at that time, but a large crucifix with a life-size Jesus is above the tabernacle. From where I was seated, it appeared that Jesus was looking down from the cross upon him with gentle love. I was thinking to myself, 'Here is a priest who has dedicated more than 40 years of his life in the priesthood.' Perhaps when he lost his sight he was angry and even bitter. Yet, as he rested his palm on the image of Jesus being baptized and who heard from heaven, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I'm well pleased," I knew Fr. Pat in someway was receiving that same affirmation from God the Father as well--a beloved son of the Father. I believe in those very few minutes, Fr. Pat was filled with courage and resolve to continue saying, "not what I will, but what you will."