By Larry Livingston, senior writer/editor
My original job when I first came to Unbound involved working with the priests who travel the U.S., preaching in churches to help us find new sponsors. A few years ago I was traveling from Kansas City to Dallas to support Father Anthony Nguyen, who was preaching for Unbound for the first time that weekend. Father Anthony would fly in shortly from California, where he lived, and we would drive together to the parish we were visiting in southern Oklahoma.
As I walked around the airport waiting for Father Anthony’s flight to arrive, I was surprised to see Father Cyrus Gallagher, another Unbound preacher. He was traveling from Denver, where he lived, to a church in Washington state, and was hurrying to make his connecting flight. We greeted each other briefly and on he went.
Not two minutes later, while still thinking about the coincidence of running into an Unbound priest at the Dallas airport, who should I see but yet another of our preachers, Father Marty Holler, getting off the tram from a different terminal. Father Marty, who lives in Ohio, was traveling to preach at a church in Indianapolis.
As a matter of fact, there were 15 Unbound preachers traveling that weekend to points all across the U.S. Some of them traveled by plane, some drove and a few took trains. And I happened to see three of them on the same day in the same city.
I like to think back on that day because it reminds me of the incredible work our Unbound preachers do on behalf of the children, youth and elders we serve. Week in and week out, they travel across the U.S., visiting Catholic parishes and inviting people to put their faith into action by forming life-giving relationships with those in need. For many of our sponsors, these dedicated priests are the face of Unbound.
I also think about the generous pastors who welcome our priests into their parishes. These compassionate shepherds open their doors to us because they know that Unbound offers a blessing to their parishioners. They seek for their people what Pope Francis has called all of us to, a transformative relationship with the Christ who lives among and within the poor and marginalized of the world.
As we celebrate Clergy Appreciation Day on Sunday, Oct. 9, we offer prayers of gratitude for our Unbound preachers and our host pastors. We’re thankful, too, for the hundreds of priests and other clergy who, over the years, have become Unbound sponsors, as well as the many bishops who graciously endorse our work.
Through their ministry they introduce thousands to the Unbound community of compassion and help open their eyes to a new and exciting entry point into the work of the Gospel. They honor their vocation, and we honor them.
Learn more about the work of an Unbound preacher.