Name-dropping has to be the most stupid, disgraceful and pathetic form of arrogance, bar none. Did I tell you about the time I chatted with Jacques Chirac when he was still President of France ? That’s when you stop listening or more probably walk away. So if I tell you that I have connections with Thomas Keneally, author of “Schindler’s Ark” which became the Booker Prize-winning novel and Spielberg’s Academy Award-winning movie “Schindler’s List”, you may be excused for being somewhat underwhelmed – especially when you discover that I never even met the man and that my impressive “connections” consist of the fact that Tom (then “Mick”) was a fellow-seminarian of my brother Jim at St Patrick’s College, Manly in Sydney, sixty years ago.
But the story Keneally unearthed with the help of one of Oskar Schindler’s survivors of the Shoah deserves the praise heaped on it and its hero, as well as on its author. Tom was ordained a deacon, but left the seminary before being ordained a priest. One can only wonder whether he would have become the prolific and celebrated author (and – like ME – a sometime movie actor !) whom so many appreciate so much, had he pursued his “vocation” to the priesthood. I am inclined to doubt it. What a waste of time and talent it would have been for him to become a priest as so many of his fellow-seminarians, like my brother, did. His “ministry of the word” has enriched humanity beyond anything he could have accomplished as a parish-priest.