This past Sunday we gathered after the 10 o’clock service to wish a fond farewell to Father Ted Babcock who, after a year serving as our interim priest, is now leaving St. Brendan’s on his way back to retirement. I had a chance last week to speak with Fr. Ted about how he came to St. Brendan’s, what he’ll remember most, and what he is looking forward to next:
Annemarie: What brought you to St. Brendan’s?
Ted: I first got involved with St. Brendan’s to help mediate conflict within the parish and because you had significant financial problems. I worked with the vestry and the diocese to refinance your debt and lower your interest rates and carrying costs. And, after your former priest received another call, you started looking for who you might go to next and who would be your interim.
I was presenting your request for an interim to the bishop, to the deployment officer, and to the other cannons and, after I finished, they all looked at me at said, "He's right here." I said, that's a little bit of double-dealing, isn't it? And so, the Bishop came here to talk to the vestry and ask them if they would like to have me, and they asked me to come and join you. And I was excited because I knew there were some difficult issues to get through, but I also knew that the parish was really good and had a spectacular history. You gave me the call and I came.
But now the time has come for me to move on, and that's been the hardest thing of all. I knew, when I came here, if I was successful I'd have to move on. And Lyn and I had fallen in love with this parish, right from day one. Yes, we knew it had issues, but we fell absolutely head over heels in love with you.
A: What made you fall in love with St. Brendan's?
T: The people here are wonderful. Whether it be the old gray hairs all the way down to the kids and everyone in between. It's a wonderful place; it really is. It's very friendly. A lot of parishes say they are friendly—and they are to each other. But this parish is friendly to visitors. Like in every parish, there are some who are not friendly, but that's true everywhere. Here, the overall ethos is friendliness. That's wonderful.
A: What is one of your favorite memories from this past year at St. Brendan’s?
T: I remember the first time I called all the kids up to the alter. Looking out at the congregation, they were befuddled about what was going to happen next. And having all those kids stand right next to me, squirming and being kids, as I was consecrating the elements; then bringing the elements down and having the kids feed mom and dad and seeing the tears in their eyes—that, to me, is a really special memory.
There are a lot of good memories, and as I reflect on them as I leave, I'm sure more will come up.
A: What is next for St. Brendan’s?
T: Regis will be appointed as your Priest-in-Charge by the Bishop. The vestry will be appointing a group of people to develop your profile, which is your history, who you are, and where you think God is calling you. And it's my hope that you write a history that is honest about your rough spots because, without those rough spots, you couldn't tell the glorious victory you've had over your struggles, now that you've come through it in a big way. That is such a powerful story. It would be too namby-pamby just to tell everyone all the nice stuff. It's a wonderful story about how you've struggled through the financial difficulties, the struggle to find your way back, and how you got there. So, I'm hoping you do that. And then you get to describe where you think God is calling you. You know who you are, you know where God is calling you, and you can then develop the attributes that will define the kind of priest you are looking for. That's exciting.
A: What is next for you?
T: I will stay with the Bishop until he tells me he doesn't need me anymore. I'm currently doing Congregational support and deployment—diocesan support is doing exactly what I did here: conflict resolution and helping churches find their future. I will do that until the Bishop finds somebody else. He's going to begin looking at the end of the summer.
A: What are you looking forward to most about being retired again?
T: Oh boy, there are a lot of things! On a very personal matter, my mom is 91, and she has a failing heart. So, I like to be with her, but she's 7 1/2 hours away. I want to be more in my grandchildren’s’ lives. The two that are here in Pittsburgh, that was easy. But I have three in Ann Arbor, and I've not seen them very much. I want to be with my kids; I like them too!
Lyn and I like to take four-day trips. She's never seen a lot of this country—I've seen 47 of the lower 48 states. So, I'll take her on a four-day trip down to Cincinnati, or to Nashville, or to Knoxville, or up to Toronto, that kind of thing. And then we'd both like to travel, like flying to Minneapolis, driving across the Northern tier through the Dakotas to Glacier National and dropping down to Yellowstone and coming back. The one state I have not been to is New Mexico. I can't wait to go there; it’s the one I've missed! And someday we'll go to Alaska, on a boat, but I'd like to go there while I'm young enough to go hiking.
On a day-to-day basis, I like to do wood working, and I want to learn how to make furniture. That means doing very fine cuts, which I don't do. I can put up a deck; I can frame a house; but I couldn't build a desk. I want to learn how to do that. I currently make sausage, which is great, because I know what's gone into the product—I know that everything that's in there is good. And I want to learn how to make cheese. I'll first start off with simple cheeses then move up to the more complex because I love cheese. And then I want to learn to bake bread. My son will teach me, he baked bread to earn his way through college. Those are things I want to learn how to do.
A: What hopes do you have for St. Brendan’s?
T: Continue to evolve and to change. Try to listen and to discern where God is calling you. And go for it. Everything else will take care of itself. I believe St. Brendan's has a really bright future in front of it, I really do. I'm excited.
Grace and Peace,
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