I’m selfishly sad to learn the news that Fr. Charles Green, a Catholic priest in Washington, D.C. has died. I met the 81-year-old just this past January, at the Little Sisters of the Poor’s home near my alma mater, The Catholic University in Washington, D.C. He had such a beautiful, inviting smile. And he told me a little bit of his story. Growing up, he was attracted to the priesthood but thought that it wasn’t an option for him, because he never saw a black priest. It wasn’t until he was an adult, working at a nursing home, when he opened up to a priest who was a patient there who encouraged Charles to pursue his vocation. This year was Fr. Green’s 25th year since ordination.
He was “retired,” suffering from some severe health challenges, but was full of joy. He told me about his ministry to fallen-away Catholic volunteers at the Little Sisters. It broke his heart to see Catholic school college kids who didn’t think church is important. He would have none of this “nones” business — spiritual but not religious. He considered it his job to charm them into salvation.
I haven’t been able to visit my friends at the Jeanne Jugan residence there since that visit in January, around the March for Life, because the Little Sisters took precautions early when the coronavirus started to be a concern, weeks before more mainstream lockdowns. I pray there is delight for Fr. Green in store as he sees the face of the God he served with such loving humility and confidence. May God be good to him, as a priest I love often says, and may he come to be a great patron for priests in heaven.
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