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April 7, 2017 / Kerry Alys Robinson

A Priest for All Seasons

Introduction of Fr. Bob Beloin, Chaplain at Saint Thomas More Catholic Chapel and Center at Yale University, honored during the Spring Fling Gala to benefit St. Martin de Porres Academy in New Haven, CT by Kerry Alys Robinson

Kerry Bob

What a spectacular evening. Wonderful setting, full house, tremendously important mission, flawless preparation over many months by the spring fling committee, our friend Michael Morand lined up to be auctioneer, generosity is in the room and in our hearts, and we have an irresistible, profoundly inspiring honoree in Fr. Bob Beloin.

Fr. Bob’s many dear friends and colleagues present this evening will likely understand the hesitation I detected in his countenance when he realized I was being handed the mike to say a few words about him tonight. I can think of only one thing that would cause him to be more trepidatious: if this otherwise perfect evening had happened to fall on April 1st rather than April 6th. Providence is on your side, Fr. Beloin, as I am bound by the rules of April Fools to be truthful and trustworthy on all remaining days of the calendar. So no Nicole Kidman with us tonight. No call from Pope Francis to your cell phone. No sudden transfer to Harvard’s Catholic Chaplaincy. No New Haven boulevard named after you. Just the truth.

And the truth is Fr. Bob is the consummate priest, prototypical pastor and quintessential chaplain. There is never a day or hour when he is not on call to be present to someone in need – in need of encouragement, of forgiveness, of inspiration, of insight, of mercy. Conversely, he quips that he has never worked a day in his life, so fulfilling is his vocation. An exquisite homilist, he makes preaching look effortless, but dedicates hours and hours of prayer, exegesis and preparation. Why? It’s not because he has world renowned Scripture scholars and theologians in his Sunday assembly, which he does, every week. It is because the Eucharist is core to who he is and whose he is. He understands that the Eucharist matters and should be celebrated with the highest levels of care and commitment.

Fr. Bob is generous; I have never in twenty years seen him walk by a person asking for money without reaching into his pocket, handing over bills and asking, “What’s your name?” Fr. Bob is humble. He absolutely loathes being the center of attention like this. This intro is killing him!!!! Although, I believe I am doing a pretty good job of reading it exactly as he wrote it! He truly had to be talked into being the honoree tonight. And it was only because of his own personal philanthropic passion for the school and the students that he consented. Of course, even the holiest among us are complicated beings, and after agreeing to be honored, upon finding out that there was the competitive prospect of breaking all prior spring fling fundraising goals this evening, he was ALL IN. He is accomplished and prolific. Yale bestowed on him its highest honor, the Association of Yale Alumni Medal. And yet he has an innate ability to laugh at himself. Happily he has boundless opportunity to exercise that particular virtue.

We worked together for ten years immersed in a significant fundraising effort to expand Catholic life on Yale’s campus. It was my job on his behalf to call influential Yale alumni all over the country and seek appointments. On one occasion my call was to a prominent veterinarian who agreed after much persuasion on my part, despite a very demanding schedule, to see us when we were in the greater Philadelphia area. The details were arranged and before hanging up, the veterinarian said, “Oh, one more question, ‘What kind of a horse is Father Beloin?’” Trust me, it could have been a far more specific and even more ignominious question!

The ability to laugh at one’s self points to joy. And joy is a hallmark of the Christian life and faith.

Fr. Bob, we honor you tonight and give thanks for your generosity of spirit, your joy, your priesthood, your friendship, your wisdom, your life of profound prayer and pastoral acumen. Thank you for letting us support such a compelling and life-giving cause tonight in your name and in your honor. And thank you for being, wherever the Gospel takes you, a beneficial presence bringing people closer to Christ, to meaning, to service and to love.

 

 

 

 

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