I have not laughed as much as I did tonight in a long time...
A dear old friend, Father Dennis Mancuso, visited the Marciniak mansion for dinner. This was once a frequent event, sometimes multiple times a week, but since he has become, as he states, a "simple country priest", we don't get to see him as often. His parish is in the hinterlands of the diocese, and a trip for dinner to the Marciniak's is now an all day event. Nonetheless, he has been staying in Buffalo this week to celebrate the Divine Mercy Novena with our community and was once again sitting at our table enjoying dinner and conversation.
Fr. Dennis comes from a large family, so the shock and overwhelming noise of a family of nine children is not an issue for him; so many guests get a glazed look on their face as the din of the supper table approaches the decibals of a sonic boom. I recall one Thanksgiving reminding a guest to eat; she was so entranced by the conversations and goings-on that she had scarcely picked up her fork. Fr. Dennis joins the fray, gets up, serves toddlers, cuts chicken for the little ones, and generally keeps up with the fracas.
Fr. Dennis is not a picky eater; on the contrary, he is quite happy with just about anything we serve. There was a dinner not so long ago that consisted of Swanson's Turkey Croquettes as the main protein. Anyone who has ever partaken of this delicacy knows that there is very littel resemblance to anything that may have come from a turkey floating in the pale brown liquid some have termed gravy. The children were horrified and ate the bare minimum. Fr. Dennis ate as though it were filet mignon. Ever since we have warned that at any given moment "flesh of dubious origin" may be on the menu again; he replies with a smile and growling belly.
Fr. Dennis and I were classmates for a short time in the seminary. As I informed my daughter's boyfriend at dinner tonight, I didn't make it. Fr. Dennis chimed in, "I did." We shared memories and laughed heartily throughout the dinner. The older children looked at us with the face many of you parents with teens have seen - the "You people are really weird and nothing you are saying seems funny to me so I am going to look at you with suspicion" face usually followed by a long, drawn out "oooooooooookay." Made us laugh even harder.
I thank God for Fr. Dennis. He is a good, holy priest, faithful to the magisterium, and full of the Holy Spirit. He is an example of the joy and love of the Church to my family and a treasured friend to me. I praise God for raising up such a fine priest to be "persona Christi" - in the person of Christ - to all of us.
He said he's coming for dinner again tomorrow. I think we'll serve Turkey Croquettes...