“In case I die, I have a few words for the future: It’s a good future.”
From The Catholic News Herald in North Carolina:
As dusk fell late last week, nurses rolled Father Michael Kottar outside Atrium Health’s Carolinas Rehabilitation in a wheelchair where 27 young men studying to become priests stood preparing to say goodbye.
At 53, Father Kottar has been diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, an extremely rare and aggressive brain disease for which there is no effective treatment or cure. The next day, the priest of 27 years would board a medical flight bound for Ohio, where he will be with his family and get the end-of-life care he needs.
But on this evening, Father Kottar felt unsettled about leaving the diverse flock of 300 families he has pastored at St. Mary Help of Christians Parish in Shelby and Christ the King Mission in Kings Mountain. He was pleased, though, to spend a moment with these future priests of the Diocese of Charlotte, since becoming a priest is his most treasured achievement.
The students from St. Joseph College Seminary had come to sing and pray and provide comfort to Father Kottar. Nobody knew Father Kottar also had a gift for them.
… In his wheelchair, his demeanor calm, Father Kottar sat and listened as fellow priests blessed him, gave him Holy Communion, and sprinkled holy water. He smiled as the seminarians – harmonizing with the Daughters of the Virgin Mother – chanted “Regina Caeli” in melodic tenor, bass and baritones.
Then Father Kottar, who had been incapacitated with infection for days, perked up to speak.
“It’s wonderful to see such a growing Diocese of Charlotte,” he said. “In case I die, I have a few words for the future: It’s a good future.”
“There have been some bad times in the Church,” he noted, citing the clergy sex abuse crisis and political divisions within the Church. “So, you’ve got your jobs ahead of you.
“You might not know what they are yet, but God has a plan for each one of you.”
He encouraged them to teach using the rosary, to revere the Eucharist – and to rise above division.Struggling to find the words, he continued, “I wish I could stay a little longer, and maybe I will, but you are going to be the future – and I think liberal, conservative, it’s not that so much. It’s about having faith. Having faith in God.
“So keep the faith.”
Through tears, his sister Renee Selby said she hopes his words and example inspire any young person who is exploring their purpose in life.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary, pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ …
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