It was a long time ago. With awe I listened to Father Joe Gorman’s story while attending mass at Our Lady of Grace church. This was not just another sermon that I had to patiently sit through and occasionally wonder when it would end. Father Joe Gorman wasn’t the pastor of Our Lady of Grace parish back then. It was few years ago and continues to feel like I heard his sermon story just yesterday. It seems every time I get engaged in a conversation about the Catholic Churchhis story comes to mind. You just want to repeat it over and over again to your friends and family. Just like that Facebook ‘Like’ button sometimes you unlike so you can ‘Like’ it again and again. His story was real. It happened.
I drive by Our Lady of Grace church many times a week. I am not a regular parishioner at Our Lady of Grace church but I am an occasional church goer. I have been there many times. I attended regular masses sometimes and I celebrated special moments with my family. And I’ve heard many boring, disengaging sermons too. The truth is I can’t find any particular inspiration in sermons that demand me to give.
Father Joe Gorman’s story was about judgement, loyalty and giving back. For some it may be just a story, but for me it might have been a bit more, a good lesson perhaps. I know many of you who belong to the church heard it. You were there when I was there. I know you did because the church was full that day.
“You give loyalty, you’ll get it back. You give love, you’ll get it back.” ~ Tommy Lasorda
Like I said earlier, I am an occasional church goer. I don’t know him. Perhaps I never will. Last time I was at the church I remember looking at my then four year old son’s happy face when he got a fist-to-fist punch blessingat the exit from Father Joe Gorman. As my son hopped ‘happily’ away that day I thought to myself how Father Joe Gorman knows how to connect with children. He gives them attention and connects with them at a level they can relate to. From what I’ve seen, he is just about the same with everyone else. Anyway, during my childhood religious days I feared priests. Our behaviour was controlled by the implication that lightning would strike. A scary thought that was for a ten year old with insignificant sins that hurt no one. Not every priest was like that then, but the good ones were rare. Many years passed since then and times have changed. It’s not like that now.
I saw Father Joe Gorman speaking at the Mayor’s Levee at the Town Park about two years ago. I’ve seen his pictures popping up on Facebook and read news about him in our local newspaper The Auroran. I’ve also heard of him from my mother-in-law who lives in Richmond Hill and she heard about him from her Aurora friends. They say that bad news travels fast. That may be true. But good news may not travel as fast, but definitely travels more effectively. When I hear Father Joe’s name again and again I get a jolt of good inspiration every time.
I know you want to know what story he told that Sunday. I’ll only hint that it was about a homeless man who saved some travel money to attend Father Joe’s friend’s ordination day. I am not going to tell you the story; I think it is best told by Father Joe Gorman.
Perhaps I will tell you that I learned something that day from Father Joe’s sermon story about judgement and loyalty. It was a story about giving back and a story about realization. For me it was a story to remember.
Recently in the news there was some controversy surrounding Father Joe as he was asked to take some time off. The good irony is that the people of Our Lady of Grace are asking to bring him back. Just like in his sermon story there is no judgement, there is loyalty and many supporters are doing everything to bring their pastor Father Joe Gorman back to Our Lady of Grace parish, they are giving back.
Watching his petition numbers rising on Change.org [‘We just want Father Joe Gorman back at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Aurora, ON!‘], one could only wish for a financial investment to do the same. However, there is an analogy to the investment here. Perhaps Father Joe Gorman’s true investment in the church community will help earn him a priceless return.
Anna Lozyk Romeo