Fonticulus Fides

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of meeting Father Peter Mitchell, the young priest who kept us all informed of what it was like to be in Rome during Pope John Paul II’s final days on earth, his funeral and the mourning period in between. Perhaps you read his daily accounts at, or maybe you caught him on EWTN’s “Life on the Rock” broadcast, or on any one of the many television interviews he did.

Father Mitchell is now pastor of two small parishes in our Diocese, one with about 150 households, the other just a few miles away with about 60 households. These are very Catholic communities in a cultural sense – almost every resident has Czech heritage – but as Father Mitchell put it, “More people go to the baseball game than go to Mass.”

So -- energetic young evangelist that he is -- Father Mitchell goes to the baseball games, too, celebrating victories by inviting the team to the rectory for burgers and giving the team a blessing before the big tournament.

Nobody in these parishes seems to know that a few months ago, lots of Catholics were hanging on his every word as he described his response to Pope John Paul II’s death, as well as what he saw on the streets, in the chapels and in St. Peter’s in the days that followed. If they do know about it, they’re not letting on.

Which is fine with him, he just wants to get on with the business at hand: leading a parish, administering the Sacraments, reigniting faith that has dimmed through years of neglect, adoring the Eucharist every Wednesday with the handful of parishioners who come faithfully.

If you read his words back in April (or just now), you already know that he did us a big favor with his “Letters from Rome.” Please return the favor and pray for him and his parishes. He’s never been a pastor before, and he admitted he was a bit overwhelmed with the whole “administrator” side of it. He’d rather be out knocking on some 210 doors. (I wouldn’t be surprised if he did so, over time). So pray for him…and pray for your own pastor, while you’re at it, and your Bishop, too.

Hmmm…come to think of it, I will enjoy seeing Father Peter Mitchell made Bishop in a couple decades. He will be an outstanding one.



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