I have another character here from my inspirational, No Greater Loss. For a reminder, I’ll be drawing a winner on Friday night at 9:00 pm Eastern time for the gift certificate to Amazon. Your name is entered each time you leave a comment on the character interview posts.
BACKGROUND OF FATHER RYAN WHITNEY:
Physical Appearance: An attractive man with wavy white hair. Medium height and build.
College: MBA from Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio
Occupation before becoming a pastor: Financial analyst
Seminary: Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland
Hobby: Goes to YMCA to lift weights and swim
Favorite dessert: pumpkin pie
Pastor at: St. Peter in Chains Cathedral
DC: With us today, is Father Ryan Whitney. Hello, Father.
FR (smiles): Hello, Diane. I’m happy to be here. Jenny told me how she enjoyed talking with you yesterday.
DC: (gives him a big grin) That’s a relief. When you rescheduled, I was afraid you changed your mind. Can I get you anything? Coffee, tea, or water? Or ginger ale?
FR (chuckles): No, I’m fine but thank you. And I bet Jenny told you I like ginger ale. Unfortunately, she told parishioners how much I like Reese’s pieces and now I’m kept in an endless supply of them.
DC: I love them, too.
FR: I’m sorry I’m couldn’t make it yesterday as we planned. I was at Children’s Hospital most of the day. A little girl had a kidney transplant, so I stayed to pray with the parents. Then I visited some other children.
DC: I hope the little girl’s body will accept the kidney.
FR: Bless her heart. She’s had a rough time of it but she’s a fighter.
DC: I’d like to hear the story of how God called you to become a priest.
FR: Everything flowed from God. My parents were traditional Catholics who instilled in me that God was first, family second and everything else follows. My brother, Joe, and I were altar boys. But I didn’t receive the call until I was twenty-five years old when I was dating this girl I thought I’d like to marry. I had a great job as a financial analyst and had just bought a house close to a church. Before I proposed to her though, I did start wondering what my responsibility to God was and if He wanted me to get married. The whole idea of the priesthood was placed in my mind. Then one night I was walking home and had to pass the church. I felt this increased awareness that God was calling me to be a priest. But I wanted to be sure, so I took several days off from my job, so I could get away from everyone. I prayed and felt positive that God was definitely calling me to be a priest.
DC: I’m glad you listened to God. How did your girlfriend take the news?
FR: She’d been having second thoughts about our relationship so that helped. She realized how awesome it was that I received the call. We talked about the great responsibility that came with it.
DC: That’s wonderful she was understanding. Did she ever marry?
FR: She married a wonderful Catholic man and they were blessed with four children. I baptized them.
DC: Did you feel any regret that they weren’t your children?
FR: No, I didn’t. I’ve always loved being a priest. And my niece, Jenny, is like a daughter to me.
DC: I’m assuming your parents were happy that you received the call.
FR (nods): They were supportive but surprised.
FR(smiles): I guess because I loved my job. I also liked making money. But the Lord made it very clear that I wasn’t going to have any money. But I knew I didn’t have to be concerned about the money aspect and that the Lord would always provide exactly what I needed. And He has.
DC: I heard how popular your radio show is. What made you decide to have a daily program?
FR: I noticed a lot of people came to me with the same sort of problems, so I started thinking how there were probably others with the same questions about religion and their lives. I felt a burden that maybe they were not seeking spiritual guidance to solve their problems.
DC: I think it’s wonderful how you reach out to so many people.
FR: Thank you. I can’t take all the credit though. I’m an instrument of the Lord’s love to all of us.
DC: Has there been anytime you felt like you gave the wrong advice to anyone?
FR(fingers his white, ordained collar): Yes, but not to any parishioner or radio caller. I wonder sometimes about the time I gave my blessing to my niece to marry Brad. They were both so young but they were so much in love. We had lost Jenny’s father who was also my brother and she lost her mother at age seven. I felt like she needed more in her life than just me. I really believed it was the right time for them to get married. And I thought a lot of Brad. But she’s never recovered from losing Brad. I’m the one who identified his body and had to be the one to tell her. I’ll never forget how she looked when I told her.
DC: And then only months later, she lost her baby.
FR: That was so hard on her, and I had a tough time, too, after both deaths.
(I notice the sadness in his eyes so I reach across to squeeze his hand.)
FR: Christopher was my godson. I loved that little guy so much. For the brief time, he was on earth, he brought so much joy into our lives.
DC:That has to be the hardest thing for a parent to experience. It’s just not natural for a child to go before a parent. I had a miscarriage and I was shocked how people tried to comfort me by saying to me that I could have another one. I couldn’t replace that lost baby with another. That baby was already real to me.
FR: They wanted to comfort you, but needed to appreciate the loss and grief you were experiencing.
DC:What do you think of the future of the priesthood?
FR: I believe in the next 15 years or so we’ll see an increase in men becoming priests. I think the youth today are much more spiritual. But also older men are becoming priests. We do have to let the people of the parish do what they can. Priests should never take away from the people their right to be the church. We must give them the opportunity to do what is theirs to do. We are all responsible for being the church.
DC: Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to talk with me. I’ve really enjoyed it. I know you have to leave soon for your radio program so I don’t want to keep you.
FR (glances at his watch): You’re right. I better go. And thank you. Please stop in to see me sometime. (he grins) I’ll even share some of my candy with you.