On this day, three years ago, the world lost a great man, when Father Mike O’Rourke passed away.
I cannot bring myself to tell you the circumstances of his passing. Quoting Legolas from “Lord of the Rings”: “For me, the grief is still too near.” And another parishioner was quoted as saying that ‘it’s too great a tragedy for so gentle a man.’
All this time, I’ve been trying to think of the words that would express how much he meant to me. I mean, my journey of faith can basically be divided into three parts – before, during, and after St. Mary’s.
And it was all because of Father Mike. He changed everything. He meant everything. And I know, and I knew, he wasn’t really Jesus come to walk the earth again. But he was pretty darn close.
But I can’t find the words.
I think part of the reason why I grieved so much, and still do, is that we meant to go back to visit him. In fact, we had tentatively been planning on going back that 2010 Memorial Day weekend.
I know it isn’t right, it isn’t healthy, of me to continue to mourn him so. But at times I do.
Here where I live, the bus drives by a particular church every day. About a month ago, the church’s marquee board read as follows: “Life is a puzzle. Look here for the missing peace.”
And I thought to myself, “That was Father Mike for me.” He was my peace.
Only he was never missing. He was always there. Despite not having seen him for several years before he passed away, he was always there. I thought about him every day, even if it was only in passing, or as like an ‘Oh, what would Father Mike think?’ moment.
At times, probably like every Catholic, I do wonder if there is a God.
But then I tell myself there is, there must be. Because he gave us Father Mike.
Dad actually played this song on his show the week after Father Mike’s passing. I think Father Mike would have liked this song.
The band is Simon Apple. From their 2004 album “River to the Sea,” this song is called “For Every Loss.”
Oh, Father Mike, I love you and miss you so. But I know you have a view from the sky now, in the company of our dear Lord and Savior.
In that regard, I know I can always look to you if I need you. And that’s all the reason I need to keep on.