I had a marvelous experience last week. I found an old college friend and spent an evening catching up. When I say old, perhaps I’m revealing a little too much. Dan and I were classmates at Loyola University in New Orleans in the late ’70s, when each of us was aged about 20. It was 35 years ago, and we had never stayed in touch.
One day, a few years ago, I saw a photo in a West Coast Franciscan magazine, The Way, and saw his name in the caption. Could this be the same guy? When I was out West on assignment for St. Anthony Messenger, I ran into a friar from his province and asked him about this Friar Dan. Could he have been Dan from New Orleans? “Yes,” the friar said, “he’s from somewhere in the Midwest.” Midwest? New Orleans? Typical Californian!
Dan Lackey is the vocation director for the Saint Barbara Province of the Franciscans. I wrote him an e-mail and asked if he was the Dan I knew. He replied, with memories of our old philosophy prof, a Jesuit, pounding on the blackboard, screaming something about Kant and St. Aquinas, “Kaaant was raaaaight…!” Yes, it was Dan!
He came to Cincinnati to visit our own vocation director, friar Don Miller, and came to our house one evening for dinner. What a blast! We started at the grocery store, and I remembered well my old friend. A little bit of this, a little of that, a mango, some cheese, a kiwi, something unique to Cincinnati (we bought sausage-like goetta, another story), pizza fixings, and more eclectic stuff. My son, Johnny, now a college senior, pizza chef for the occasion, looked on, no doubt wondering if we’d ever get home!
We had an evening of rich sharing (my wife was taking notes) and really just a grand reunion. We posed in front of our dining room print from New Orleans’ famous Cafe’ du Monde, where we had enjoyed many a beignet (French doughnut) back in the day. Friar Dan’s back in California now, and we promised to stay in touch—at least a little!
There’s something wonderful about friendship, isn’t there? At grace, before we started in to our eclectic meal, we thanked God for that.