By Father Timothy Gollob
Special to The Texas Catholic
Recently, I had a “throwback” day in my memory bank as the curch celebrated the feast day of St. John XXIII. It was also a day when our Salvadoran community was gearing up to welcome their beloved Archbishop Oscar Romero to the ranks of recognized saints.
There is an essential connection between these two holy men. They both were the salt of the earth type of humans. They knew where they came from and who called them and what were the needs of their particular times that they could mend.
In 1958 I had just journeyed forth from the safety of the seminary in Rome. During my four years there Pope Pius XII was the supreme pontiff (a bridge builder).
Soon after, Angelo Guiseppe Roncalli was elected our new pope. He was deemed to be an interim leader who would do no more than “hold the fort.” Not so!
Soon this man with great spiritual vision called for a meeting of the bishops to finish the business of the Vatican Council I. He summed his agenda up by proclaiming that the Roman Catholic Church needed to open some windows and let in the fresh breeze of the Holy Spirit.
As a young priest, I delighted in seeing the young people in the high schools and colleges welcome the inspirations of the Holy Ghost (as God was wont to be called in those days).
The Diocese of Dallas-Fort Worth (as it was called in those days) responded by establishing the Holy Spirit Seminary for young men and by helping struggling Catholic schools in Oak Cliff by combining the resources and teachers of Blessed Sacrament, Holy Cross, St. James and Immaculate Heart of Mary schools into a new vibrant entity: John XXIII Regional School.
Two campuses were chosen: Blessed Sacrament for the junior high students and St. James for the elementary ones. Over 700 young men and women were taught by the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur to be alive and creative in the spirit of Pope John XXIII.
But, as Charles Barkley says, no one ever beats Father Time. Buildings were wearing out. Teachers were scarce. Students came from families who were struggling to meet daily bills. By the time I was sent to Holy Cross, John XXIII Junior High School was moving to that campus. We immediately painted the library, dusted off old football uniforms and chose a mascot. The John XXIII Cougars were roaring….until May 1998….once again Holy Cross had vacant classrooms.
I had a vision recently as I celebrated Mass in honor of St. John XXIII. It was of the hundreds of children who had faces like beautiful dandelions with their smiling faces to the sun.
In just a brief time, they became seeds which were scattered by a puff of wind. They flew away and established their faith in new and exciting places and ways.
None of the fire of the Holy Spirit is ever wasted. Not in Vatican II, not in Saint Oscar Romero, not in you nor in me.
Father Timothy Gollob is the pastor of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Oak Cliff.