Working in non-profit as I do, I meet a lot of truly amazing people. (I meet a lot of assholes, too, but it’s a better than average ratio.) Some of these amazing people are members of the clergy. (So are some of the assholes, but again, it’s a good ratio. But enough about assholes.)
One of the best of the best passed away last Friday. I worked with Father O’Reilly for about a year on a capital campaign to raise funds out at Saint David Catholic Church in Davie, and, like everybody else who came into contact with this giant of a man, was thoroughly bowled over by his wit, charm, passion, and sheer competence in everything he addressed.
There’s a statue of his head and shoulders in the new building for which we raised the money with one of his oft-uttered refrains: “Don’t tell me it can’t be done.” That sums him up. He also liked, “Never wrestle with a pig. You can’t win, you get all covered with shit, and besides, the pig likes it.” (He’d say that after hearing a very stupid argument.) Also, “Why have a dog when you do all the barking yourself?” “Irish Diplomacy: the art of telling a man to go to hell in such a way that he looks forward to the journey.” (That’s Guido’s favorite.)
It was an honor both to know him, and to know he knew me.
Nobody lives forever, of course, so we content ourselves to be grateful for the time Father O’Reilly devoted to the thousands of souls fortunate enough to have shared his sphere of influence in the brief time allotted to him.
I’m not a Believer of any stripe myself, so it does me no good to imagine the heavenly reward he richly deserves. Best I can do is keep him alive in my own thoughts and deeds, and hope that others do as well.
Thank you for your service, Father.