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Extraordinary men Print
Letters to the editor
Thursday, Sep. 06, 2018 -- 12:00 AM

To the editor:

Almost seven years ago I wrote a tribute to Msgr. Felix Oehrlein, pastor at St. Cecilia Parish in Wisconsin Dells, who had passed away. I called him “An Extraordinary Ordinary Man.”

When I wrote it, I realized that I had singled out one man and ignored a great many others. I resolved to address that oversight when the time was right.

To my mind, there are no ordinary men in the priesthood. All of them are extraordinary — each in his own way. And I’m not just talking about our local parish priests. I’m talking about men from the pope on down.

You know them. We all know them. At the least we know them from Sunday Mass, a friend or relative’s funeral, a wedding, sitting in religion class at school, the Baptism of our kids, the chicken and ham dinner last Sunday, at the hospital administering last rites to our mothers, and at the Knights of Columbus meeting as our chaplain.

They are always there — rain or shine — 6:30 a.m. or 7:30 p.m. Sometimes at three in the morning in unpleasant circumstances.

They are dedicated to God, very well educated, know your families, oversee your parishes and schools, pose for pictures, go to meetings, console and counsel those in need, build churches and schools, travel from foreign lands to serve us, travel to foreign lands to learn more, drive from one church to another on Sundays and other days, listen to your compliments on their homilies, listen to your criticism about their homilies, and as Bishop Robert Morlino likes to say — all of them are Christ in our presence, wherever they go.

I’m pretty sure I’ve missed a few things. Earlier, I said I wanted to do this when the time was right. Why now? Because for over 2,000 years, the Church has been our guide, and there have been times when things haven’t gone so well. We’re having one of those, now.

No one is happy about or can excuse what happened in Pennsylvania and other places. But in spite of it, we must remember that there are many extraordinary men whom we can value and admire every day. We know them. They are right here in front of us.

Thank them and support them. Pray for them. And finally, I want to recognize that there are others to remember as well: Religious Sisters and Brothers, deacons and their spouses, education staff, parish staff, diocesan staff, and a host of organizations and volunteers who support in many different ways our Catholic Church. But that will require another article in the Catholic Herald.

John F. Uhler, member of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Madison