Paul Thomas Moore: WWD&JD — What would Dad and Jerry do?
In My Father’s House l Paul Thomas Moore
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is Paul Thomas Moore’s last regular column. He will return to the pages of The Catholic Post in the April 2 issue, however. More to come. . . .
This column began when I jotted down my reflection on the eve of Advent 2018, as I peered out the window on the year’s first snow and watched a solitary leaf waft down toward the white earth. I can just imagine that leaf looking down at the suddenly white world below and wondering, “Did something happen last night?”
Here in Lent 2023, these jottings are coming to a pause of indeterminate length. This time my window-side perch is a source of reflection on the sights and sounds of a world waking up to spring, as birds chirp their happiness, and a farm field on the nearby horizon just waits to get growing.
“I hope this final column is a fitting tribute to where “In My Father’s House” came from, along the path of faith and wonderful words laid down by Jerry Klein. At the same time, I want it to be a tribute to my father, Tom. . . .”
As a new immigrant from Canada in 2018, my job was to become accustomed to my new country. That’s what I’ve been doing. The task has been made much easier by the fact that my wife, Mary Louise, is from here. As well, the sterling reputation of Mary Louise’s late father, the longtime journalist, author and Catholic Post columnist Jerry Klein, paved the way for The Post to give me a chance to follow in his footsteps.
Interestingly though, my column’s name, “In My Father’s House,” had come to me a decade earlier. I had always wanted to write a column, and that name came to me as a double homage to God the Father, and my own Dad, Tom. Though nothing came of this column idea at the time, when the opportunity arose to more or less “inherit” Jerry’s column space, the name made more sense than ever.
OK, so I’ve read other people’s columns as they come to a close and they trace the arc of the column’s contents over the years — different subjects covered along the way. I could do that — columns on the truth of pro-life, the tranquility of soul sourced via reconciliation and eucharistic adoration, and the bountiful blessings of the rosary. This kind of “greatest hits” retrospective (or misses — I’ve made a few of those) is wonderful, but I don’t want to be distracted from my focus.
I hope this final column is a fitting tribute to where “In My Father’s House” came from, along the path of faith and wonderful words laid down by Jerry Klein. At the same time, I want it to be a tribute to my father, Tom, who labored outside the media, but similarly inspired me with his own love of words, which we would savor as he released them gently into the air with a craftsman’s care in conversation, like a curler releasing a stone.
As well, regardless of what each did to make a dollar, they found their most important life’s work as dads. Jerry edged out Tom seven kids to six, but who’s counting? At this point, my wife’s mother, Mary, and my mom, Teresa, might say, “Hey guys . . . you didn’t exactly do it alone.”
Still, I don’t think our moms would mind our dads being honored in this final “In My Father’s House.” Neither do I find it accidental that I happen to be writing this column for the March 19 issue of The Post. March 19 usually marks the feast of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, though it has been transferred to March 20 this year, as the liturgy of the Lenten Sundays takes precedence (which is, of course, a very “Joseph” thing to do, stepping aside to make way for his foster Son).
Neither do I find it a coincidence that last weekend, while my wife and I were visiting daughter Sarah in Vancouver, I was reminded of the primacy of my own fatherly responsibilities when we attended an English Mass at the Vietnamese parish in her neighborhood, Giáo xứ Thánh Giuse (St. Joseph). As with St. Joseph, Tom Moore and Jerry Klein, husband and father, are the two roles I must always keep in the first column of my heart.
What many readers of Jerry Klein mention to me still is the way he painted the seasons, and tied their ebb and flow to the seasons of the soul. Hear his description of the approach of spring:
“But the snows do not last. The season moves on with an inexorable sweetness. . . . St. Patrick’s Day . . . the solemnity of Holy Week and the vaulting joy of Easter . . . and now begins this own resurrection of nature . . . a powerful parable of renewal and rebirth.”
Speaking of renewal and rebirth, while this column is ending (for the time being at least), I will still be connected to The Post, albeit in a different capacity. Read all about it in the next issue.
PAUL THOMAS MOORE attends St. Mary of Lourdes Parish in Germantown Hills. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org