When you first meet him, he can seem a little harsh, and odd, but once you get to know him better, you realize, that he KNOWS Church teaching, and isn't afraid to tell anyone what is right and what is wrong. He also knows the history behind liturgical traditions, and is very interesting. To hear him talk about liturgy, and Church teaching, you would never guess that he's only been a priest for 8 years. When he was a young boy, growing up before Vatican II, he wanted to be a priest. Then, when Vatican II came along, and all kinds of things changed litugically, he lost his desire to be a priest. So, he went into theater, becoming a very successful opera singer (click here for pictures, and a great article in the Criterion about him). Then, when he rediscovered the Traditional Latin Mass, his desire for the priesthood returned. You have not lived, until you have heard him sing the Latin Mass. His "Ite missa est" will always be one of my favorite sounds.
During the last month and a half, when he was so busy wrapping things up here, and preparing to move to Arkansas (yes, Arkansas), he took the time to visit my mom in the hospital twice, and a couple times at home. Chocolate Chip was especially upset by the news of his leaving. She asked yesterday morning before Mass, just to clarify that indeed, Arkansas was just too far to travel on a Sunday morning for Mass (from Indiana). After Mass yesterday, he tearfully said goodbye to us all before he went to leave. Chocolate Chip ran to give him a big hug as he was getting to his car. I wish I had thought to bring a camera, or at least my phone. It was so sweet.
I have not met our new priest yet, Father McCarthy, but I have heard nothing but good things about him. Still, as with all big transitions, this will sting for a while, but with time, I expect to look back at the memory of Father Magiera with fondness, and the sadness will fade.