Our Father's Ambassador: A Tribute to Father Michael Ryan

This Saturday, my priest, Father Michael Ryan, of St James Cathedral in Seattle, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his ordination. Our parishioners were asked to share stories and tributes to be bound in a book for him.  This is my tribute:

As a Catholic convert, I did not grow up with priests about.  Priests were, in my eyes, akin to Presidents and Army Generals, those in authority whose path never seemed to cross mine.  So when I became Catholic, each and every meeting with you was awkward on my part.

At my Confirmation, when it was my turn to get a picture taken with you, I awkwardly said, “We should have my husband take a "diplomatic shot", you know, the photos in the newspaper when two diplomats meet and they are shaking hands.” Without missing a beat, you said, "Yes, we can pretend we are talking about something very important." This photo was taken at that moment.

In that moment, you welcomed me, there was space for me, awkward and intense, in this Church Family of ours.  I’ve seen you do it with so many others. You aren’t much different than a diplomat, as you treat each of us with sensitivity and grace. You are our Father’s Ambassador, showing us each how welcomed and loved we are.

And yet, so rarely we tell you, how grateful we are.  How much you are a part of our lives.  How you speak to us through your homilies and warm words. We want to tell you but like the President or a General, we don’t want to take up too much of your time. We know you do so much.

Thank you for showing us how much God loves us.

Father, we love you so very much.