A visit to our Abbey in Albuquerque

Twenty years ago, Fr. Domenic Rossi and I were on loan to the Norbertine community in New Mexico. Dom and I lived at the Priory (now Abbey) and worked at the local parish of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. From last Thursday to next, we are back visiting — and there are lots of fond memories.  However, we especially chose to come now because our confrere, Father Fran Dorff, is in a hospice program and we both wanted to say goodbye. Fran taught us both many years ago (when he was a member of Daylesford), and we lived with him again in our time at Albuquerque. Not only have we had daily opportunities to be at his bedside and talk and listen. This evening, after Vespers, we joined the local community in celebrating “Viaticum” (a simple communion service to provide food for the final journey) with Fran.
The doctor was here earlier today and explained that our brother was very near the end, with days or even hours left to live. Fran was alert and fully responsive to the prayers. Indeed, before we started, he had a few words for each of us. It was a gift to be with him tonight.  A fine theologian, gifted preacher, published poet, skilled spiritual director and genuine wisdom figure, Fran will leave his mark on the life and ministries of three abbeys: DePere where he first entered after graduating from our high school in South Philly, Daylesford which he joined upon our independence in 1963 and then, after having served in New Mexico for seven years, he joined the new Albuquerque community in 1997.
We have all been blessed to know him and call him both confrere and friend. May he soon awaken on the other side of heaven’s gate. He promised to pray for us.