I’ll always remember hearing Fr. Dennis’ wonderful, booming laughter errupting through the halls, usually at an off color, slightly inappropriate, hope to God no proper Catholics were in earshot joke as he rummaged for leftover jellybeans or Lisa’s famous lollipop stash. He had boundless enthusiasm, was unfailingly generous, sleeves rolled up, cleaning and cooking alongside us all. If he could have had his way he would have added 8 days worth of activities into those 7 day weeks. He was easy to approach, easier to talk to, and easiest to love.
One of my favorite memories of him was a Saint Patrick’s day many years ago. I was dressed for the occasion complete with a headband sporting bobbing shamrocks. Upon seeing me, Fr. Dennis announced with great gusto to the entire office how ironic it was for someone like ME, who couldn’t look less Irish, to be dressed as I was and wearing such an impressive headband “being so lesbian”.
He looked deeply mollified and attempted to get the word “Lebanese” out several more times, only to declare me lesbian over and over again and louder and louder each time to his open consternation and embarrassment, the wild and red faced laughter of the staff, and my complete and utter delight! I eventually supplied the correct word, patting him on the arm as he apologized profusely through a crimson cheeked, pained smile, and responded “It’s ok, father, besides it was just that one time in college.” He threw back his head and roared.
I’ll miss him dearly. The world will miss him dearly. I know for a fact my life was blessed for the gift of that man and I envy the delight of the angels at the endless hours of the sound of his laughter and his voice bellowing loudly for someone to show him where they hid the goddamn jellybeans.