RIP Fr. Jack Tolley 1935-2020
So much to say...hard to find the words!
I sit here, staring at a blank page...I'm at a loss for words
...and yet, there's so very much to say about Fr. Jack...about the man, his life, and his ministry!
I met Jack when he first came to St. John's, about 20 years ago now. From the start, he fit seamlessly into the generous, loving culture of the parish. He voluntarily took on a large portion of the pastoral support for our parish household and took true delight in assisting with the chapel portions of St. John's School...he loved each and every one of those kids!
As my vocational call clarified and I began the path to ordination, I found Jack to be the staunchest supporter, most helpful mentor, and always loving cheerleader any student could ever hope to have! He was always willing to engage in theological discussions, eager to read and offer opinions on papers...and just to be an ear or shoulder when the need arose.
It was at being that ear, that shoulder, that calm presence that Jack excelled. He is my model for pastoral care and ministry. He could certainly tell a good story, but it was always you in whom he was most interested. "How are you?" "What's new with you?" "Are you alright?" We have all experienced his concerned care for us...and about us.
When I returned to St. John's in 2017, it was such a joy to join him as a colleague on the ministry team! And, no surprise, he continued being the generous cheerleader he has always been for me.
As I returned to the parish with new eyes and more experience, I have been continuously struck by the kind, humble, generous, and loving nature of Jack's ministry to us all.
Many of you have heard me preach on saints with a small "s" and Saints with a capital "S"...Jack will always be a Saint with a capital "S" for me. He exemplified the "disciple's life" all Christians are called to by Jesus, as he cared for and ministered to all, especially to the most vulnerable in our midst.
Again...so much each of us could say...so much written in each of our hearts and spirits. In the spirit of his ministry, I ask us all to honor him by emulating the example of his ministry to others and by following the advice he so often gave, "be kind, especially to yourself."
Rev. Cathey Dowdle
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