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It was nine months from diagnosis to death for my closest colleague and friend, the Rev. Bob Beloin.
I was with him when he experienced his first symptom. We had met on a beautiful fall morning in October 2017 to take a long walk and talk about our work on behalf of the Catholic Church -- mine with the Leadership Roundtable and his as the Catholic chaplain at Yale University.
Warning - Ease - Pace
Without warning, he was suddenly unable to walk with his usual ease and brisk pace. It was perplexing, but neither of us was unduly concerned.
As fall ended and winter began, Father Bob was increasingly certain that he was OK. The solution, he said, was simple and likely arthroscopic in nature. He was persuasive. I was relieved. But in January 2018, I took him to the doctor anyway.
Ignorance - Fall - Day - Time - Worsening
Since then, I have often yearned for the blissful ignorance of that fall day and ordinary time -- before the worsening symptoms, the doctor visits and tests, before the MRI and the biopsy and the diagnosis of glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.
Over the next many months, as Father Bob underwent treatment, the Catholic Church to which he had devoted 45 years of exceptional pastoral leadership was once more embroiled in crisis. Another wave of sexual abuse scandal and distrust was breaking across the church. Throughout the Catholic world, the faithful demanded healing and justice for survivors and transparency and accountability for church leaders.
Midst - Archbishop - Father - Bob - Residence
In the midst of this, an archbishop came to visit. He arrived at Father Bob’s residence visibly upset by the crisis, and he proceeded to speak at length about the failure to protect children, the concomitant distrust of church leadership, and the anguish of survivors and their families. The tumor had robbed my friend of much of his physical mobility but little...
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