Special phone call came after beatification

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A couple of years ago, our newspaper team had the honor to publish an edition of our Okarche newspaper that primarily contained the entire story of Father Stanley Rother’s beatification by the Catholic Church.

We had been working closely with St. John’s Parish gathering all the details about Father Rother’s life and had previewed the ceremony for months. Beatification is a ceremony of recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person’s entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name.

The weekend of the ceremony we had three photographers and reporters in not only downtown Oklahoma City at the Cox Center but also in Okarche to gather and report all the local reactions to this very rare occurrence. We obviously had some large newspapers leading up to the event.

The following Thursday, we published one of the most complete and special editions that I have ever been a part of in my almost 30 years of doing this. The only other paper I had more interest in was back in June of 1992 when we published our huge “Garth Comes Home” edition of the Yukon Review…of which more than 15,000 copies were stolen out of our news racks the first two days after they hit the streets!

The beatification edition of the Okarche newspaper was different. It had a unique feel to it. It was quite different than our Friends in Low Places edition of that Yukon Review we had produced 28 years before. This edition was extra special. This edition was Holy.
For the next month, immediately following its publication, we had calls from all over the country from people wanting to buy copies. We sold and mailed copies to Denver, Colorado.

We sent it to Dallas, Texas. Several copies were mailed to California and hundreds were sent throughout Oklahoma. Of the many that went to the Oklahoma City Archdiocese, I guess I didn’t realize that one of them was heading to Rome, Italy….until I got a unique phone call.

I answered the phone at the office that day and was greeted by Father John Peter Swaminathan. His strong accent was very warm and as he greeted me, I could tell that I really liked this guy. He told me that he wanted to thank me so much for the unbelievable coverage that our staff had produced with the Okarche newspaper in the coverage of the beatification of Stanley Rother.

He told me he read the paper cover-to-cover several times and that everyone he talked to was so pleased with us. I told him how unique and special it was to cover something like this that we had never covered before. He told me in all likelihood that we would never cover this ceremony again since it was so rare.

After we talked for just a minute he got to the point of his call. He said he had just got word that “the Holy Father” had read the copy of the Okarche paper’s coverage of the beatification and that he was well pleased! Now most of you who know me probably know that my first thoughts were, “Holy Father….Holy S&^=%$!!” Does he really mean the Pope just read one of my papers? I was pretty-much stunned. I told Father Swaminathan how much I appreciated him personally calling me and telling me the news. He laughed at me when I told him I wasn’t even Catholic!

This week, I got to relive my moment of dealing with “The Holy Father.” Yes, I got to go talk to this special Catholic old man, I got to waltz right into his office as a matter of fact. I called him before I went to his office and as usual was told he was on the phone helping a customer.

Now some of you are thinking that maybe I was calling Father Rex Arnold at St. John’s. Not at all. I was calling on one of my best, not only Catholic, advertisers, but best advertiser in my Yukon market. You see, in my world, for about 30 years, Ken McAlister at Conrad Marr Pharmacy has been the Holy Father to me!

I have many times prayed that Ken would promote his pharmacy on the pages of my newspapers. So many times my prayers have been answered. Ken always tells me that he likes to read my columns because I talk about so many of the people he has known for all these years. I love going to see Ken because he always likes to hear my stories and he knows I like listening to his stories.

He has helped and touched so many people throughout the years that just being around him makes you feel better about your day. I’m glad that his Holiness, Pope Francis, reads my Okarche Warrior at the Vatican in Rome. However, I’m very blessed the “Holy Father” at Conrad Marr reads my Yukon Progress right here in Yukon, Oklahoma!

Thanks for reading. See you next Saturday. Would you like a Progress?