Column: Well-liked former resident reaches his goal of priesthood

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 12, 2003

Every time I start to write this column a flashing thunderstorm flares up. In my superstitious way, I find myself wondering if it means I shouldn’t write it at all.

To tell you the truth, it isn’t an easy column to write. Too much feeling, too much emotion, too much to say and too few suitable words in which to say it.

One should, of course, simply start at the beginning, and trot firmly to the end after having passed the middle. The beginning, I suppose, was around August 1978, when Chris Manahan became a part of the Tribune’s editorial staff.

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Fresh from the University, where he had graduated Magna Cum Laude, he was a first-rate rewspaper man, and managed to get along with everyone. Not easy.

He remained at the Tribune until March 1982, and then went to the Cedar Rapids Gazette. We stayed in touch through mutual friends and ten years after he had gone to work at the Gazette, he entered upon 10 long years of preparation for the priesthood.

It’s going to be a little hard for me to remember to call him Father Manahan, instead of just plain Chris. He’s been generous in sharing his experience with his friends.

Friday afternoon he had a gathering for his friends that had worked with him at the Tribune. Saturday morning he had a similar gathering for friends he had worked with at the Gazette.

We had all received invitations to all the events. Kim Barr, who had worked with Chris after I was retired, drove me up to St. Paul, where we met Chris Schocker, who had worked with all three of us at different times.

It was a shock to me to find co-workers, once unbelievably young, still young but mature. They were all so good to me that I kept fearing that any moment I’d break into horrifying tears.

As this goes to press, I haven’t found anyone to give me Mary Newgard’s married name. She took my place when I retired. A year later when some of my friends gave me a surprise birthday party, she brought me such a clever scrapbook that I still show it with pride.

Others I worked with that were there included Joan Jacobson Rosenberry, with her husband, Don; Molly O’Brian, Colleen Casey Jensen, Sue Flanary and Mike Dapper.

I hope I’ve left no one out. I told Mike how I had missed my reporter’s notebook when I left the Tribune. I even went back and asked if I could buy one. The powers that be gave me one and said I’d be given one whenever I asked. I was very grateful, but I never asked again. Dear Mike showed up at the ordination bringing me four of the notebooks. My cup runneth over.

Fr. Manahan and three other candidates were ordained Friday night at the Church of St. Luke, St. Paul. Harry J. Flynn, archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, was the ordaining prelate.

I sometimes think the rituals of the Catholic Church are more impresssive to outsiders than to those who have grown up with them. The ordination to me was a magnificent pageant of music, color and tradition. Unexpected were the Lakota drum prayers. I found them beautiful.

A reception followed the ordination.

The new priest celebrated his first mass at St. Mary’s Church in Chatfield. That is the church where his parents, and an aunt and uncle, were married in a double wedding ceremony.

The churches were full both at the ordination and the mass. It was evident at the mass that Chris had the full appreciation of the congregation.

A brother Tom, also a Jesuit priest, assisted at both the services.

A &uot;simple&uot; supper was served after the mass. I put the &uot;simple&uot; in quotes, because it was more than abundant.

Fr. Manahan will be a parish priest at the Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota, near Valentine, Nebraska. If I can get a more exact address, I’ll include it in a future column.

He had many friends when he lived here. I’m sure there are some who will want to congratulate him.

Love Cruikshank is an Albert Lea resident. Her column appears Thursdays.