My mom used to jokingly refer to Fr. Real, a Roman Catholic priest and dear friend of our family, as The Pope or Pope John. I was quite young at the time but I understood 100% what she meant even then.
I met Fr. Real when he was a new priest at my brother’s funeral. He later arranged my youngest sister’s adoption.
Fr. Real left the church after 25 years and went on to serve the immigrant, impoverished and homeless community. If there was one thing this incredible man was, it was consistent. And he lived his beliefs. Never EVER preached. Was the greatest listener. And made everyone feel as though they were the most important person in the world.
When he passed a few weeks ago I got severely depressed. It’s difficult even now to type these words. I looked up to this man like no other. He was good to the core. I trusted him completely. Even though I had not spoken to him since my mom’s passing, the fact that he is not physically in this world anymore has had a very profound effect on me. Nothing I do could take away the deep sadness I feel just knowing this world would not benefit from his physical presence anymore. Thank goodness my beliefs allow me to feel his presence still. I am so grateful for that.
I remember like it was yesterday when he took my oldest brother and me to a monastery for an entire day. When we arrived on a cold day he took us to the cafeteria and got us hot chocolate. I gulped mine which was a huge mistake. I burned my tongue and throat so badly that it later blistered. I did not want him to know and I didn’t want to ruin the day so I said nothing. As miserable as I was physically it was one of the best days of my life. Just being in his presence made me so happy to spend an entire day with this man. I felt so special.
We lived in a couple really huge homes when I was little (including an ex-convent) and one time he found me at the bottom of the stairs and sat with me and just talked. The house seemed so big to me (which it was) and I didn’t want to be so far away from everyone. After we talked I went back to bed and slept with no problem.
I’ve heard his wife Sue is amazing and the love of his life. I wish I could meet her. What an INCREDIBLE woman she must be.
When I read all the comments after his passing I realized I was not the only person he made feel special. As a matter of fact I think he made everyone feel just as special. I realize now more than ever how brilliant he was. Just to be able to spend a whole day with him made me so happy.
So for the rest of my life here on this earth I will carry my memories of him with me. I wish with all my heart my children had known him. Maybe in a way they do because I know he is a big part of me.
Rest peacefully Jack Real. Thank you so much for everything. The world is a better place because you were here.