R.I.P. My Mother

Apr 17, 2018

It will not come as a great surprise to many that I have been a teacher for many of my 34 years as a priest, educating both young people and adults, even as an faculty adjunct for Wheeling Jesuit University.

I know that the Christian life is not something you assimilate in a classroom. However, for those who already have faith, learning more about the faith is a yearning and a necessity for faith to grow.

Teachers may never know the impact, for good or ill, they have on their students. However, on some rare occasions I will run into a former student who will say, “Do you remember… I will always be grateful to you for that.” A comment like that makes all the long days and long hours of grading papers or preparing for class worth it.

When I taught in Steubenville early in my priesthood, more than one student made a comment about my mother. Many of them had her as a teacher in the fifth grade at St. Agnes in Mingo. Sometimes a student would compare me to my mother. That was high praise, because they would speak of her with real affection, but most importantly, they knew she loved them, something that probably had a greater impact on them than anything she ever said. That I could be compared to her was high praise indeed.

My mother was forced to retire due to illness. I think leaving the classroom was more devastating to her than the fact that she had cancer. She lived five weeks after diagnosis and died 17 years ago at the young age of 64. Of course I will never forget her. Most importantly, I knew that she loved me.

 

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