01 Feb My Religious Father
by Shatzi Duffy
in Staff Authors
After I arrived to hitch Madonna Home in 1996, my uncle, Fr. Jim Duffy, a Madonna Home priest, surprised me by saying, “You want to discover one other non secular director; household doesn’t direct household at Madonna Home.”
Unable to think about anybody in addition to my beloved uncle, I replied, “however who?”
“You might be good, Fr. Pelton is wise, why don’t you select him?” he mentioned. So started a 24-year relationship of belief and friendship.
I discovered a lot from this man who wasn’t afraid to share his mind, his ardour, or his ache. He had learn and digested nearly each non secular author price studying. He adopted American politics (and sports activities) with nice enthusiasm, launching into marathon prayer campaigns for each presidential election in current reminiscence.
He was conversant on an enormous array of topics, and his eager mind led him to incisive opinions. When he determined to not have an opinion on the troubles of Zimbabwe/Rhodesia because it was rising from colonial rule, it was an ascetical determination.
He got here from a background of privilege. He was a WASP (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant), a descendant from the early Puritan settlers, together with the historic determine, the minister Cotton Mather.
Robert graduated from Yale College and went on to check with Mercea Eliade, the Romanian-American historian of faith on the College of Chicago and one of the vital eminent students in Comparative Faith of his day. At one time, Father was in line to obtain his chair.
He was effectively conscious that he may need chosen that path or in any other case made his mark within the secular tradition of American politics or academia.
Having adopted a girlfriend to Combermere within the late ’50s, he preferred to inform how Catherine Doherty confronted him. “Are you in love along with her?” she requested. (He by no means shared his reply to that query.) “Effectively, in case you are,” she continued, “I can present you the way to burn with ardour of one other form.” I feel that was a turning level in his vocation.
As the primary priest ordained for Madonna Home, he felt that Catherine liked him as a son. However this gifted and nice man additionally carried a wounded coronary heart. He endured the damage and trauma of rising up in a divorced household.
Typically individuals failed to understand that his ardour for politics and modern points was as a result of he actually cared about our tradition and our society and was perceptive sufficient to understand the Massive Points.
In an period when the disclosure of wrongdoing throughout the Church was much less clear, he was unafraid. When a journalist directee hesitated to print a narrative a couple of scandalous observe in one other diocese, Fr. Bob advised him to print it regardless of each their ache.
He additionally suffered poignantly when individuals failed to grasp his ardour for the Proper to Life.
He liked the Desert Fathers and imbibed their teachings. After I requested him to show me the way to pray like them, he sat quietly, folded his fingers and inclined his head in the direction of his coronary heart. St. Anthony of the Desert was his nice mannequin.
Together with his stressed power and mind, Fr. Robert typically requested himself, “What am I doing at Madonna Home?” One reply that got here to him was that he was right here to undergo, to be purified, and to supply his life for the world within the “desert” of Combermere—like Father Anthony.
Over time, Fr. Robert’s mind receded, and he turned increasingly more easy, poor, and childlike.
The Sacred Coronary heart, a picture overseas to his Protestant upbringing, turned his remaining resting place. In the long run, all that was left was his coronary heart within the coronary heart of Jesus, given for the lifetime of the world.
I’m not stunned that he died on the feast of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. And within the Jap Ceremony Melkite calendar, October 16th is the feast of the Holy Centurion Longinus, a Roman whose sword pierced the guts of Christ. In keeping with Jap custom, he turned a follower of Jesus. What higher companion for Fr. Pelton, one other seeker who pierced the guts of Christ?
Thanks, Fr. Robert, for all you could have executed for me