Father Bernie Dolan was one of a kind. He was my high school religion teacher. He also resided at my parish for a number of years, so I went to many Masses said by him. He would tell his students to call him Bernie. He had a wicked sense of humor. The class he taught juniors was officially something like "Comparative Religions" but I recall calling it something like "201 standard brands of religion". He was really a very good teacher, but not above teasing. Once, he overheard me talking about another teacher and saying how picky she was. I said "Picky, PICKY, picky." Well - I heard that one over and over again. For one test, our instructions were to write a "very picky" essay on something and a "not picky" essay on another topic. (BTW he shared my negative opinion of that picky teacher.) When he would say Mass, his sermons were great. He actually told you what the author was trying to teach you in the readings. At a certain point, he started giving a sermon before he would read the Gospel. He would tell you what to be listening for. He really was a student of the Bible and a fabulous teacher of the Bible as well. After my high school years, I sometimes turned to Bernie for advice dealing with family issues or relationship issues. He was a good counselor. Bernie was a priest who was human and who knew it. He didn't not take on airs. He never acted as though his position in the Church made him special. He's one of the few priests that I think could truly have understood the issues of marriage without having been married. Bernie was real. He had vices - smoke, drank. You could relate to him and that made him a more effective priest. He's the kind of priest we all should have gotten an opportunity to experience.
Bernie passed away on Saturday. I know that he is with God now. It is his just reward.