Memoirs of a shattered hope.
(Page 10 of 10)
Proffered is no measured length
of the potential soul.
Rather, influence of strength,
corner-stone, cemented whole.
The senses know the form
and smile and eyes
of love, but the lover’s norm
is to pierce through this disguise
to spirit which in all things
does love intensify
to ripened being. Each day that sings
our love is more July.
Sand below and stars above
give instancy of me.
Mine is no lazy love;
come taste my love and see.
4. TO DACCA
Dick had hardly returned to his first assignment, further study at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., when he was writing to request permission to go to the Missions. In 1958, he had asked Father DePrizio whether he could take the “fourth vow”; viz., to go anywhere in the world his superiors might wish to send him. In Holy Cross, this vow was in practice looked upon as a request to go to the Missions. Father DePrizio advised him to wait, unless he was sure he wanted to go. Dick was willing to go, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to go.
In France, he soon realized that he did want to go. It was too early to do anything about it. He waited again. But as soon as he was settled in Washington, he wrote to Father DePrizio. He had talked with Father Arnold Fell, the Director of the Holy Cross Mission program, and Father Robert McKee, the Superior of the Vicariate of Dacca; he was already speaking of special studies in Islamic culture and philosophy. He had a desire to begin forging intellectual links between Islam and Christianity. First, he had to get permission to take the mission vow.
“I hope you are not deceived by my long silence in this decision taken a long time ago,” he wrote to Father DePrizio. “’Twas thyself advised me to wait until I could be ‘certain enough to fight for [it].’”
That is how Rich put himself in the queue to be sent to Pakistan. Before arriving there, he was sent for courses to the Holy Cross Foreign Mission Seminary near Catholic University in Washington. In the summer of 1962, he took two courses in Arabic at Harvard. He also had a couple months of experience in the “Southern missions” in rural Georgia. On one occasion, he later recalled, little boys asked to see his tail. They had been taught that all priests were devils, and wore cassocks to hide their tails. The work of bringing Catholic faith to the rural South was very difficult, and yet for him exhilarating. He knew that, however hard, it would be far harder still in Pakistan.
After a brief vacation at home with the family in Johnstown, Rich was driven back to Washington to catch an airplane by my father and my brother Jim (third in line behind Rich and me). On the way home, Jim wrote in his book Bangladesh: Reflections on the Water, my dad stopped the car and began to cry profusely. When Jim asked what was wrong, no reply came for a while. When he could, my father said, “I am never going to see him again. He will not come home.”
He had had that premonition once before, when in 1943 his best friend Mickey Yuhas had been drafted into the army, and by mid-June had landed in France. My father felt a sense of doom. During the Battle of the Bulge in early December 1944, Mickey Yuhas was killed by a bullet in his forehead. That is the only other time I know of that my father burst into tears.
WHAT DID NOT BECOME clear to the family until well after the death of our parents was the way Dick died. On the ferryboat mentioned above, near the end of the crossing, two young boys grabbed him and shouting, “We caught another Hindu!” pushed him into the water. We did not call Richard “the lion-hearted” for nothing. He fought the boys back until they called two older lads from the shore. He showed them the crucifix Holy Cross Brothers wear around their necks, and explained in Urdu that he was a Christian. They pulled Richard to the shore and now four held him down, while a fifth stabbed him in the throat and then plunged the knife into his chest.
Although robbery was not their motive, the boys took his watch and his bicycle. His eyeglasses had been broken in several pieces by the struggle. The young men threw his body in the water, witnesses said, but when it lodged in the river bank, the vultures and dogs that were feeding on other bodies along the river tore his body apart. His remains were never found—except that a Bengali detective some months later, who found Richard’s skull, had the presence of mind to have the priests’ dentist study it. He proved without doubt that it was Dick’s.
Dick had wanted to be wholly consumed by love for God and neighbor. He was.
I hope it is not wrong to pray to him as a martyr. Thanks to my sister’s discovery of so many documents, it is clear to me that he was.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?