“Cherished memories and prized photos from David”- Golden Rule Moments

Cherished memories and prized photos from David

Golden Rule Moment

Albert Celoza

Guest columnist

People keep and carry important information wherever they go. David pulled out and showed me two prize photos from his smartphone. ‘Here’s my granny with Aunt Hattie and Aunt Paulette.’ It took me a few seconds to realize that his family is African American. To quell my surprise, David said that for twelve years since he was a baby, it was Granny who took care of him. While his parents were both working in the travel industry (his mom being a pilot and his dad a traffic controller), he spent many days and hours with Granny’s family.

Looking back on his formative years, one of the most profound impacts on his life was that for four days a week, he and Granny attended Pentecostal church services together. He watched Granny play the piano. He learned many Bible verses and listened to preaching in the style of the Black church with affirmations of ‘yesses’ and ‘amens.’ One of the scriptural quotes he fondly remembers is, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.’ David has learned that Granny’s life has not been easy, but her faith has been her strength. She had many challenges but was forever grateful and calm. She left a void in his life when she passed away, but left David with treasured memories he carries to this day.

The second photo was of two young boys. One taller than the other. The older of the two was in priestly vestments of white and green. Ever since he can remember, David has always desired to be a priest. Hence, with the children’s missal on hand, he pretended to officiate Catholic mass with his younger brother as his acolyte. David said he has felt this ardent love for people of God and the call to the priesthood. He is reminded of lines from a psalm, ‘You are my God. My happiness lies in you alone. He has put into my heart this marvelous love.’

The prized pictures in his smartphone are Golden Rule moments captured forever for David’s memories he could share with others. While his Catholic family attended mass on Sundays, it was his adopted Granny who imbued with him a love for scripture and a profound understanding of others. The Catholic-Protestant divide has never been part of David’s mind. While each side has a caricature of the other, for David, it was one community, especially since he was born and had his formative years in Yuma, Arizona. It was a smaller community than Phoenix, where people knew each other. What sealed this bond with other young people was being an active scout under Mr. Maxwell’s leadership. David enjoyed summer camps with his coeducational crew dedicated to adventure.

Two treasured photos and memories formed David’s later years. He studied to be a priest and was ordained in 2016. With all the years of his academic and pastoral training, it was Granny’s church that taught him the fundamentals of a life in prayer and scripture. In his life, he carries with him this eagerness to reach out and a desire to understand. With firm faith, he has always believed and relied on the goodness of God.

David is now Father Loeffler, campus chaplain of the Newman Center of Grand Canyon University. He is also director of the Office of Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs for the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix.

Dr. Albert Celoza is the executive director of the Arizona Interfaith Movement.

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