Fr. Ragan Schriver’s cousin, Mary Anne, often visits him for holidays. My family has gone out to dinner with the two of them over Thanksgiving weekend the past two years. When Fr. Ragan heard that my wife was going to be away for Easter, he invited me to celebrate with him and his cousin at Holy Family Catholic Church. After the Easter Vigil, we went to the rectory and filled plastic eggs with candy for the children who would attend morning Mass the next day.
The rectory is a comfortable, three-bedroom house that Fr. Ragan just furnished and decorated with the help of his parents and sister. Mary Anne and I stayed in the two guest rooms. While we sat in the living room, on some pretty nice “scratch and dent” couches, watching the end of the college basketball game and checking our various electronic contraptions, I went online to add Mary Anne as a Facebook friend. That’s when I saw the news about the burn injuries at Immaculate Conception. I posted a link to the story and soon got a message from WATE’s Erica Estep asking if I knew anyone at I.C.
I woke up the next morning after Fr. Ragan had gone back to the church for the 8:00 a.m. Mass. Mary Anne was still asleep in the other guest room. After eating the “Ragan diet” most of Saturday, I was famished. I got his new coffee maker started on its inaugural brewing and poured myself a bowl of Wheat Chex and Bran Buds. Somehow I thought that Fr. Ragan would stay at the church between Masses. I was wrong. Two cars pulled into the driveway. Fr. Ragan had brought some friends over to tour his new digs.
So picture this. I was standing in the kitchen in a t-shirt and pajama bottoms, eating the cereal and waiting on the coffee. The TV was on WATE as I waited to hear my FBI Citizens Academy classmate, Hana Kim, update the story about the burn victims. I looked out the window and recognized WBIR’s John Becker and his wife walking toward the house. A woman who turned out to be John’s mother was with them. My first reaction was to run into the guest room and change into my khaki shorts before the Beckers came in the front door. I put on sneakers too so I could tell the Beckers that I was doing my Fr. Ragan impression. To complete the look, I put one foot up on the stool at the tall breakfast table. I offered to change the TV to WBIR but John said not to worry about it.
John is one of Fr. Ragan’s good friends. He was a celebrity roaster at the farewell reception for Fr. Ragan last December at All Saints. John and I recently recorded a video PSA for the Catholic Charities “Kids Helping Kids Fun Walk.” He hadn’t seen it yet, so I showed it to him and his family on my laptop. He meant it in a nice way but I still felt insecure when he told his mother that I am not normally on-camera.
My other gig for Catholic Charities got some attention today too. After 8 years of wondering how people get mentioned in the newspaper’s society column, I got in without even realizing it until Fr. Ragan’s mother told me about it this afternoon:
A record 500 supporters of Catholic Charities of East Tennessee gathered at the Knoxville Convention Center to celebrate the work of Catholic Charities and its network of human services programs. The 25th annual event, titled “An Emerald O’ccasion,” raised more than $100,000 – also a record. Guests in green-accented attire entered the dining hall to the skirl of a live bagpiper. The program for the evening, emceed by Annual Dinner Committee Chair Tami Hartmann, accompanied by husband Bruce Hartmann, featured CCETN Executive Director Father Ragan Schriver presenting the Most Reverend Richard Stika, Bishop of Knoxville, with commemorative artwork. Schriver joined dancers from the Drake School of Irish Dance on stage for a “shenanigan” or two that brought the audience to its feet. In a style that might be called “stand-up auctioneering,” Frank Murphy of radio station Star 102.1 guided the bidding for a dinner for 10 with Bishop Stika.