Today is the birthday of Fr. Ivor Koch, who spent hours sitting outside of the funeral home with my mom after my dad died. We were lapsed Catholics and a family holding a lot of pain from church mistakes decades before.
I was baptized, but we never went to church for the 11 years that followed. But, nevertheless, he sat there, listening to my mom’s grief about my dad and her pain about the church.
We always considered ourselves Catholic. But the Church had burned us. Fr. Koch wasn’t pushy. He was simply present.
He was present in ways that the priests weren’t in the 70s when my mom wanted to talk about her brother’s suicide.
And that made all the difference. He cared. He brought Christ to us again.
He wasn’t perfect. He was a bit grumpy. But, he made all the difference, healed a massive rift in my family, and gave me a spiritual home when I needed it most as a 12-year-old dealing with losing a father.
He died a few years ago, but I keep his birthday on my calendar. If you’re one of the priests that follow me, know that you’re changing lives every day by just being you. Keep fighting the good fight.