March 21, 2013Not all newspapers have a spiritual advisor, but we had one until last week when Deacon Paul Teich died after a long period of failing health.
Paul was a deacon at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church. In the Catholic Church, deacon is far from an honorary title. Deacons go through four years of training and can baptize, perform marriages and preside at funerals. They can't say Mass, but one of their duties is to read the Gospel and preach. So deacons do give sermons, and Paul's sermons were always from the heart and always a little different.
At his funeral Paul's sense of humor was described as quirky. I would say he had a well-developed sense humor because it had developed along the same lines as mine.
Paul and I met at The Rhinoceros Club in the 1980s. I don't know what he was doing Sunday mornings in those days, but I know I usually found other things more important than getting up and going to church. When we met up again in the mid '90s. My attendance at church was much more consistent, but Paul had done me one better he had become a deacon in 1995. At some point he became the official spiritual advisor of The Rhinoceros Times and we put him in the publisher's box. A lot of people who had known the two of us back in the Rhino Club days thought that Paul being our spiritual advisor was a joke, and although we both got a huge kick out of the idea, and laughed about it a lot, it was no joke.
Paul was our spiritual advisor and he gave us good spiritual advice. In fact, I wish I had taken more of it. Paul was a plumber by trade and a good one. Some people still think that being a devout Christian is kind of namby-pamby, but there was absolutely nothing namby-pamby about Paul. He ended up enduring more pain than I can imagine.
After an unfortunate accident in which his truck was rear-ended by a school bus, shattering a vertebra in his neck, Paul couldn't handle the physical labor of being a plumber and went to work inside for Johns Plumbing for as long as he could.
One of the last conversations I remember having with Paul was about his pain management. If he took enough pain medication to block the pain he was too muddleheaded to serve at Mass, preach or counsel people. So being who he was, he was enduring as much pain as possible so he could help others.
But, finally, even that didn't work and he had to retire from public life.
Paul was a good man who made a difference. He will be missed by many, and at The Rhino we will miss our spiritual advisor