1512350_589370657810901_1766484193_nupon the death of our dear friend, Pete Seeger, i posted this picture of his Beloved Hudson River and Humble Pete’s perfect sentence: “to my old brown earth and my old blue sky I’ll now give these last few molecules of i. ”

Dear Pope Francis,

It’s your little friend again writing from the colorful hills and river valley of New York. Some keep asking for my next letter to you. Others ask where i get the noive (how they say it around here) to write, as i’m nowhere near your “league.”  But i can easily justify it, because you came to my league, that of “the little ones,” as you hold every molecule sacred. There are those who will ridicule me, that you will never read a letter – and who am i anyway?

It all reminds me of a story which i heard as a boy about an orchestra which was rehearsing for an upcoming performance of a symphony. Suddenly the piccolo player was overcome by a sense of her own insignificance – and she stopped in the middle of it all. So did the Conductor, waving his wand for all to cease! And he stepped off his stand and wandered over to the piccolist, asking, Why did you stop? She confessed that she had just experienced a feeling that she was just not necessary, not important. Does anyone really hear me anyway?

OH, YOU ARE SO IMPORTANT! He cried. You Complete Us. Without you, we do not go on! Just as every single player is critical. Pope Francis, il mio Maestro, you make me feel that way! that i can make a real difference in a life or two. Already one man thousands of miles away from me has written to say that he has returned to Church after more years than he could count – and even kissed his old kneeler hello again! If only for him, it is all more than worth it! Maybe i can help you bring a little comfort or healing to a few more.

And it’s ok if you don’t really hear a single squeak from me. And i won’t ever need your direct intervention to me on the floor of the orchestra pit. YOU HAVE SAID IT ALL SO LOUDLY AND CLEARLY – and so OFTEN, by word and mostly by action, that EVERY SINGLE PERSON is important, is necessary, is critical to the Great Symphony of God, down to the last molecule or note.

You might say that i see part of my squeaky job as just to ECHO you to the people around me and to the world, piccolo-wise. There is a map on these blogs, which lets us see whenever and wherever they are read. How cool, how pleasing to know that each day, in some far corner of the world, someone is hearing my love for you or your love for us through my “piccolo.” We must not let you out of the spotlight. We need a Good and Gracious Conductor in this desperate world. In every way i can i will repeat your simple yet essential message.

Holy Father, although i am a sinful man, i do not deserve, i believe, a title which many have given me. It wasn’t that long ago that i went for a job interview within the Archdiocese of New York. My interview was at the central headquarters, the Chancery. Within minutes after my arrival, in that building which used to be “my second home,” i was told, definitively, by one very influential in the Church of New York, “tread lightly through these halls, as you are now and forever a persona non grata here.”  Those were the words chosen; i could never possibly forget them! i have often wondered how you would respond to that statement???

But, my friend, i know THAT YOU KNOW that we former priests and religious are not such bad guys. The whole world knows well the story of your never-ending friendship with a fellow shepherd, a bishop, who chose to leave and to be married. We have all heard of your wonderful care, ongoing, even for his widow after he died. Your compassion is matched by our own amazing shepherd here in New York, Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, who  actually told me that i had received two vocations, twin callings, from God, and he encouraged me to keep on squeaking for the Church in my own little way. And again…i cannot show enough gratitude for your very own personal preacher, Padre Raniero Cantalamessa, who, after reading my story, has shown such a humility and a graciousness toward me by calling me his “dear brother in Christ and (his) teacher in the true Franciscan Spirit.” What more respect could i ever ask for?! What an open mind and heart he has! Just as yours is, i know! Would that the whole Church be so open to the gifts that we “non gratas” still might have to give! You have such a fortune untapped in that crew, dear Father.

Apparently, many seem to think that we gave up the right to speak. But, try as i may, i cannot control my squeak. i will always be a squeaky kneeler, YOUR squeaky kneeler!  Today, everyone wants to see your credentials. But, truly,  the credentials that count most in life came with our Baptism. i must have said it to thousands myself, as i anointed little babes, that whatever would become of this child or that, the gifts and talents that would matter most could be shown in letters after their names, P.P.P., Priest, Prophet, Prince or Princess. By virtue of my Baptism, i will always have those rights – and responsibilities! Every single one of us, whatever the size of our instrument, is important to God – and so to You!

your little yet confident piccolist


Author: friardad

what's it like having a wife and six kids after having been a friar for many years and being still married to St. Francis' Lady Poverty?


  1. This is a delightful and soberly refreshing reminder of our uniqueness before God as a result of our configuration to Christ at Baptism!


  2. Mikie,
    Thank you for a beautiful reflection on the importance of even the piccolo players in this world.
    I treasure your words and many, many hearts will be touched by your “squeaks.”


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