Farewell to Father Bill // Positively Speaking // Mark Wilson

I avoided the little trip across town as long as I could.  Goodbyes are difficult for me — especially, when it comes to a dear friend like Father Bill.

Nevertheless, with only five minutes left before the retirement reception ended, I reluctantly climbed into my car and made my way over to 5th and Dakota.

It was hard to find a parking space.  The lot at St. Joe’s was full, and cars lined the streets for several blocks.  The only other times it’s been this crowded were the Birkie, the Fat Tire Race, and the Community Christmas Cantata.

I worked my way through the crowd towards Father Bill, who was sitting on a stool at the front of the hall.  A parishioner strummed his guitar, singing a ballad he wrote for the occasion.  One by one, the beloved priest tenderly blessed his parishioners.

When Father Bill saw me, his face lit up, and he motioned for me to come near.

Suddenly, I realized I couldn’t speak.  I just stood there, with eyes brimming, and a big lump stuck in my throat.  All my preacher’s eloquence evaporated, as I choked out, “I’m. . .I’m going to miss you a lot Father Bill.”

He simply smiled, reached out, placed his hand on my head, and spoke a beautiful blessing over me.  Then, I gave him a big bear hug.  We sort of laughed and cried together at the same time.

Down through the years, we have served side by side on various occasions.  We have done funerals, weddings, and hospital visitations together.  We have prayed, shared our hearts and swapped good books.

On one occasion, we went, in tandem, to the emergency room to bring solace to an out of town family grieving the loss of their teenage daughter.  We entered into their sorrow, and prayed our hearts out.  It was a very difficult experience, but I was deeply moved by how much Father Bill loved these grieving strangers.

On the way back to the car, he said, “You know, we make a pretty good team.”   I agreed.

Early one Sunday morning, Father Bill took me cruising in his new P.T. convertible.  The story of our little excursion made it into both of our sermons that day!

And now, the time has come to bid farewell to a trusted and treasured friend.  I shall remember, though, that good friends are never lost to us.  We always carry them close to our hearts.

“I’m . . . I’m going to miss you a lot, Father Bill.”

HWC Information

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10655 Nyman Ave
Hayward, WI 54843

ph: (715) 634-4613
fax: (715) 634-7823

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