An old friend stopped by the other day.
It’s been at least 15 years since I last saw Father Tom Morgan. I only remember the time frame because he visited me at my former cabin and blessed it as a writer’s home.
Father Tom holds a special place in my heart and the hearts of thousands of Citrus Countians who recall him from his eight years at St. Scholastica Parish in Lecanto.
I’d like to tell you it was the confessional where I first met Father Tom. Or that I stumbled into church one day and was mesmerized by his sermons (that part’s true).
Nope. Politics brought us together.
St. Scholastica was Father Tom’s first parish in 1992. He quickly found a following in Citrus County for many reasons, not the least of which were his Sunday messages of Jesus’ love and compassion for us sinners.
At the pulpit, he sometimes read from “The Little Prince,” a children’s book for grownups about love, kindness, tolerance, and imagination. (I’m re-reading it this week.)
But I didn’t know any of that on the Wednesday of our introductions. Father Tom was attending his first Chronicle Editorial Board meeting as a guest member, and I was there.
Just the night before, I learned my then-wife was pregnant with our daughter. I was feeling a little giddy. Having this young priest join the Editorial Board only added to my giddyness.
Father Tom immersed himself in Citrus County issues. We talked politics a lot. We learned from one another. He was the first priest I’d ever met who seemed like the kind of servant that Jesus had in mind. I’ve met several men and women of God since then.
I’d been a Catholic all my life, but faith really began to mean something when I met Father Tom. Looking back, Father Tom was likely the first tour guide in my Christian journey.
In 2000, he left Lecanto for another assignment. And, in October, he was named Rector at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg.
We spent some time in my screen room Sunday afternoon admiring the lakeside view and talking about politics in a very large way. Like many people, especially Republicans, he’s concerned about the tone of debate even this far ahead of the 2024 elections.
I told him about Just Wright Citrus, how we specifically tailor the conversation to local issues and that the debate stays cordial. He was interested in that.
So I mentioned my grand scheme: “What’s to stop Citrus County, Florida, from being a hybrid community on how to have civil discourse?”
He agreed it’s a worthwhile goal.
We hugged, and before he left, Father Tom blessed the house for Deb and me. His gentle spirit resonates here, and I’m grateful for his visit.
It’s pretty simple. God made me a writer. For some reason, he pointed me toward Citrus County politics. We write and talk about it daily.
Politics isn’t theory, data, or polling. It’s human beings who use their experiences, observations, heritage, religious beliefs, media blasts, or what they had for breakfast that morning — all combine to form opinions and decisions.
Father Tom reminded me of what I already knew but shouldn't forget: We can discuss issues of our day and be kind about it.
I took a pleasant walk Tuesday afternoon from the new Just Wright Citrus World Headquarters on the shores of Big Lake Henderson to the bank downtown. It was my first Courthouse Square stroll since the move, and it felt good to get out during Thanksgiving week.
We live in an amazing place. I get to write about it. Just Wright Citrus has become a community in itself. That’s because of you.
“Thanks” just doesn’t cut it. But it’s the best I have. Enjoy your Thanksgiving, friends.
— Just Wright Citrus is following the government’s lead and taking the four-day Thanksgiving weekend. But please return next week; I have some fun blogs dialed up and ready to roll.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.