Recently at St. Barnabas we had a parishioner died. Joe Russo was a fourth degree Knight of Columbus and was well known throughout the diocese. He was a very active member of the parish, a loving husband, a father, grandfather, and he greatly loved and supported his priests. He was super Italian… he treated everyone like family. It was often said that he had a million friends. He had that quality of making everyone that walked into his life feel special. I was one of them.
Joe was one of the biggest affirmers of my priesthood. He was always affirming me, encouraging me, telling me how proud he was of me. And at one point he said to me… Father, I love you like you are a son to me, if you ever need anything, I won’t say no. And he meant it. Time and time again, anything I asked him for he either did himself or rallied and excited people to get involved in. At one point he gave me a new name… Joe has three sons: Rocco, Dino, and Gino and his grandsons name is Mossimo… so he gave me the name Miko. His family now calls me their brother Miko.
If you’ve ever had someone like this in your life that loved you like a father, took you into his family, gave you a new name, affirmed you, delighted in you… than you have a glimpse of what God desires to do for you. 2nd Samuel portrays this so wonderfully: “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.” God looks at us like this… he wants to bring us into his family, give us a new name in confirmation, love us like we are his own and delight in everything we do. You do have a father like this in God, you are a son to him, you are a daughter to him… he is your father. And not only this, but on this feast of St. Joseph he gives us the adoptive father of Jesus to be our father as well. Delight in knowing that you are the adopted child of our Father in Heaven.