Frank Charney

Frank Charney's Sunday Postcard

Novel personal religious experiences

My wife and I have been long-time parishioners of St. Lawrence Roman Catholic Church in Franconia, Virginia. Since our arrival in the Washington, DC, area in the late '60's, we have always attended this church. I even attended the blessing of the church in 1970 by Bishop Richard Russell, the head of the Richmond, Virginia, Diocese. With the great expansion and population growth in Northern Virginia, the Richmond Diocese was split into two jurisdictions and a new Diocese of Arlington was formed. The the Arlington Diocese presently comprises 68 parishes. The size of St. Lawrence has remained small enough that people usually know each other. An early pastor, Father Franklyn McAffee, always seemed to have enough influence that he was always able to attract many of the Catholic hierarchy. One would often see the new head of the Arlington Diocese, Bishop Thomas J. Welsh, on the St. Lawrence grounds. Bishop Welsh was installed in late 1974 and served until 1983 when he was made Bishop of the Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania. The second Bishop, John R. Keating, succeeded him in 1983 and served until his untimely death in 1998. He was also a frequent visitor to St. Lawrence. The present Bishop, Paul S. Loverde, became head in 1999, transferring from upstate New York.

As an example of Pastor McAffee's influence, Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, once considered a possible papal successor, made an appearance at St. Lawrence Church and gave a talk. If he had been elected, Cardinal Arinze would become the first Black pontiff in 1,502 years. There was a Black pope named St.Gelasius I, whose four-year papacy ended in 496.

At the invitation of Father McAffee, a learned theologian, the Reverend William G. Most was brought from Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa, to teach in the Washington, DC, area. Father Most had taught classics at Loras College from 1940 to 1989. I attended Father Most's funeral when he died in 1999. A devout and humble man, his body lay in a plain, pine box, constructed by students at a nearby Vo-Tech school. It's the type of casket one sees in Mid-East burials. Father Most was an extensive writer on deep, theological topics—talk about Einstein's "Theory of Relativity." To get some idea of this extraordinary priest and his writings, see http://www.catholicherald.com/articles/00articles/mostobit.htm.

What surprised me, however, is when a Prince of the Church, Cardinal Edouard Gagnon, stayed at St. Lawrence's Rectory for several days when visiting the area. He would attend the softball games at the nearby ballfield played between the Knights of Columbus members—myself included—and the young seminarians. With a hot dog in one hand and a cold drink in the other, he would comfortably chat with attendees at the game, just like grandfather would do. It was the only time I remember chatting with a Cardinal. At his elevated ecclesiastical position, he was remarkable at placing a person at ease. Recently, I was surprised to read that this great man died at age 89 in late August. Cardianal Gagnon was at the forefront of many of the controversies presently facing the Catholic Church, especially on the subject. of artificial contraception. Also, he was heavily involved in trying to correct the schism of Swiss Archbishop LeFebre who split away from the Catholic Church teachings. In an interview in 1983 he made this frank statement about disobedient bishops: "Whenever the bishops come to Rome, the Pope tells them what he wants on morality and catechetics and so on. But he doesn't have prisons to put them in, so many go back and don't obey." To read more about this practical, devout man-of-God's teachings, see

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article2477235.ece.

— Frank Charney

This Day in History

1890: Birthday of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th president of the United States (1953-1961).

1926: A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh was published.

1926: Westbound train, due at Nanty Glo at 8:15 a.m. hit and killed three cows at Beulah.

1947: Pilot Chuck Yeager became the first man to break the sound barrier.

1955: Nanty Glo Borough council gets deeds for factory site on Johnson and Walter Streets.

Liberty Museum project report
What's new in Nanty Glo?
Report on latest NTAMHS Meeting


Complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonal articles


Today's chuckle

Senior moments: Your mantra is, "fast, temporary relief."


Thought for today

To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.

— Eleanor Roosevelt


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