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One priest’s joyful, faithful witness has made a difference in Leigh Ann Roman’s life and the lives of many others.

When my family moved back to Memphis from Virginia and I returned to the workplace after homeschooling, we joined a parish with a good school and a wonderful parish priest. 

Because of this man, my children grew up believing a priest is joyful and available, attends all parochial school events, and can handle any problems that come up. We were especially fortunate that he was assigned to the parish throughout our children’s schooling there. 

A parish priest has so many roles to fill, the most important of which is the sacrifice of the Mass. But he must also be there for all of the other sacraments: Confession, Baptism, Marriages, and the Sacrament of the Sick — not to mention administrative and social obligations. We often hear about the negative effects of bad priests, but we don’t always hear about the influence of a good priest. Here is my story of one priest’s impact.  


The Power of Presence 

First of all, Father was always present. Whether it was the first-graders’ softball game or the Mother’s Club Boogie on the Bayou fundraiser, he was there. If it was a sporting event, he was cheering — sometimes quite loudly. If it was Boogie on the Bayou, he was dancing.  

He made an extra effort to be available to his parishioners. When our Venture Patrol Scouts went to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, he got up extremely early to bless them before their two-day journey out West.  

A newcomer to Memphis said she visited several Catholic churches in the diocese, but Father won her over immediately with his warm welcome and offer of a parish tour. She enrolled her only child in the school and later taught there herself. 

Father was there in a very important way for a man of the parish who chose to turn his life around after struggling with drugs. He walked with that man and helped him to build up his faith. Today, that parishioner leads a men’s ministry, has a strong family, and is a full-time evangelist for the Catholic faith. 




A Community’s Response 

Everyone has stories about Father, and they are all good stories. That is why it didn’t surprise me that parishioners gathered to pray for him when we learned that he is facing a serious health problem.  

A call out on Facebook brought more than 150 people to the church sanctuary on a weekday evening to pray the Rosary for Father, though he hasn’t served the parish for at least seven years. 

Another parish he served in the city livestreamed a Rosary led by parishioners, one of whom was a young man with Downs Syndrome. “Father is a friend to everyone,” the young man said.  

That is true, but he is more than that. Here is my own story about Father. 


Hope and Healing 

When we were new Catholic converts, my husband and I lived in a small town outside Memphis. We had two babies within 16 months, and I did some freelance writing while caring for our two toddlers. Just as the children were getting a little older, around ages 2 and 4, I got pregnant again. And I was not happy about it.  

As the weeks passed, however, I became more optimistic and began looking forward to the new baby. But then I suffered a miscarriage. Although the doctor said it was likely due to my age (35), I still grieved and felt guilty for having had second thoughts about a third baby. 

I finally decided to go to Confession in the neighboring parish, which Father was serving at that time. He asked me if the child had a name, and then he pronounced a Baptism over the baby, saying, “This child will be an intercessor for you in Heaven.” 

On that day in the Sacrament of Confession, Father gave me hope and healing. He acted in the person of Christ and made a difference in my life. He has made a difference in so many lives, and we will keep praying for him as we know he does for us. 


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Copyright 2024 Leigh Ann Roman
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