For Dr. Who fans - there is a saying ‘You never forget your first doctor.’
For those of you who may have no idea what I am talking about - Dr. Who is a BBC program about a man who can travel in time and space in a blue phone box (bigger on the inside) who also ‘regenerates’ - This is a great plot invention to ensure a program can continue when the actor decides it is time to move on, and has been very effective since the show first aired in 1963.
Well, those of us who work with Mission Doctors and Lay Mission-Helpers have a similar experience with the priests who were director of the Mission Office when we became involved. We will never forget them.
Those who served in the early years under the leadership of Msgr. Anthony Brouwers had the advantage to also have the original - to have known him was to know the vision of what we were called to be - true missionaries. He was followed by Msgr. Laubaucher, who sadly also followed Msgr. Brouwers with an untimely death. Msgr. Lawrence O’Leary then led the Mission office for 25 years. Many are the missionaries, like Tom and I, who felt very connected to him. Kindness and generosity were the hallmarks of his leadership. In the office with him, and then eventually serving as the director was Msgr. Joe Alzugaray. He visited us in Thailand twice during our three years, with his ever present pipe smoke trailing behind him. We learned last week that Msgr. Joe succumbed to a long battle with cancer and while I wanted to cry, memories made me smile and laugh as well. We remember Msgr. Joe today - his family - the missionaries whose lives he changed, the parishioners at St. Apollinaris in Napa, CA where he served for many years and, we remember and we are grateful.