Yesterday, I was preparing to lector at our parish and receiving some last-minute instructions from my friend Martha, lector extraordinaire. In walked Msgr. Anthony Borrelli, the celebrant of the Mass. “Which one of you knows the most about computers?” he asked.

Martha and I promptly pointed to one another.

As it turned out, Monsignor was having some problems that we weren’t able to resolve before Mass. We gave him some ideas, but I offered to drive over to his house if he still needed help. Sure enough, my phone rang last evening, and I headed over with assistants Joseph and David (age 10 and 8, respectively).

While we worked on the computer, Monsignor was a most gracious host to the boys. In particular, his offer of a can of pop and some cookies went over very well. Despite the usual streams of consciousness emanating from the boys (“Dad, what does vomit mean?”) the entire visit went well. David even went to confession before we left.

On the drive home, the boys expressed their appreciation for the visit – repeatedly. No less than a dozen times, I heard one of them say, “He’s a really nice priest!” They got to stay up late, eat cookies and drink pop, and ask lots of important questions (“Monsignor, how old are you?”)

For my part, I was grateful for Monsignor’s computer problems. It provided a wonderful opportunity for my boys to get to know a wonderful priest.

A while back, I visited my friend Fr. Joshua Wagner, and asked him about his journey to the priesthood. A bright and articulate young priest, Fr. Joshua told me something that hit me like a brick in the face. “I was deeply influenced by the priests I spent time with as a child.”

Wow.

It struck me that my kids don’t get to spend much time with priests. Today’s priests are busy, and legitimate controls arising from the abuse crisis have had the unfortunate side effect of distancing them from children.

Both Joseph and David have expressed interest in becoming priests. To be fair, they have also expressed interest in becoming pilots, firefighters, doctors, and Jedi Knights. I encourage them to listen to God, and do what He wants. If He does call either or both to the priesthood, I’m sure their positive memories of Msgr. Borrelli and his pop and cookies can only help. He really is a nice priest.