This is the second episode of an ongoing series. For the previous episode, click here.
Few friars command a presence quite like Fr. Patrick Tuttle, OFM. Capable of rousing a packed Church with a spirit-filled homily in the morning, inspiring a board room of executives and donors to support the mission in the afternoon, and bringing down the house as a larger-than-life DJ for receptions and fundraisers in the evening, there are few social situations in which “Fr. Pat” fails to thrive. If he’s around, you can bet that there’s energy in the room.
At 18 years old and just entering college when I met Fr. Pat (or FP as we called him) in 2007, I didn’t quite know what to make of him. Here was a man unlike any other priest I had ever met. On the surface, he was younger than any priest I had ever known, he wore funny clothes, and his homilies were not only “tolerable,” they were actually inspiring, moving, and dare I say… entertaining! But there was so much more. As much as his charismatic and extraverted public persona attracted attention and defined his reputation, I became interested in Fr. Pat because of the intensity and integrity with which he lived his life for the Christian mission. Never satisfied with “good enough,” he challenged the students of Furman University Catholic Campus Ministry to approach every situation with nuanced answers and hard work. Often apologizing for nitpicking our answers to questions of faith or approaches to campus issues, he never let us settle for half-truths or easy answers that left certain people out, diminished the wonderful intellectual tradition of the Church, or short cuts that didn’t truly finish the job. The people of God, I will paraphrase him saying, deserve our best.
It is not a stretch to say that I am a friar today because of his influence in my life. Inviting me to a leadership position during my freshman year, encouraging me to spend a summer living and working at his church, and constantly asking, insisting, nagging, pushing, and demanding that I consider becoming a friar (seriously, it was a bit embarrassing at times), Fr. Pat saw it as is personal mission to make sure the friars didn’t die out on his watch. Seeing potential in me, he nurtured a vocation I didn’t know I even had until I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Who knows where I would be had he just taken “no” for an answer…
Luckily, we will never know, and in this universe Breaking In The Habit still exists to tell the story. As with Br. Fred’s video, there was simply too much to share of Fr. Patrick’s life to fit into one video but I hope it serves as another adequate piece of our lives as friars.
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