Tony Rossi, Director of Communications, The Christophers
The Fuel That Keeps One Priest Going
Father Al Scott of Long Beach, California, may be 85 and retired, but his passion and energy
for Jesus and the Church serve as a model for people less than half his age. Among other things, he
celebrates Mass at various churches, visits convalescent homes, feeds the homeless with the
Missionaries of Charity, works with men from a local rescue mission, takes a weekly class at Cal
State Long Beach, exercises six days a week, and practices a daily holy hour that includes prayer, meditation, and Eucharistic adoration.
During an interview with me on “Christopher Closeup,” I asked Father Al what keeps him going. He said, “My motto is, ‘I don’t want to exist; I want to live.’ Some people die at 30, but they’re buried at 80…I made a choice…I want to keep going until the Lord says it’s time. My bags are packed, but so far He hasn’t [called] me. That’s why I’m plunging ahead and doing my part to light that candle and not curse the darkness.”
Father Al is particularly fond of that idea, which is why he has supported The Christophers for a long time. He receives 100 copies of our Christopher News Notes 10 times a year and hands them out to prisoners during jail visits, to people he meets in the bank or when out shopping, and to penitents who come to him for Confession. “[I want to] let people know,” said Father Al, “that the way we’re living is so negative and depressing that we need to light candles and not just sit around and curse what a rotten world it is. We have to do something positive.”
That positivity is a natural part of Father Al’s personality: “God gave me the grace to look at the bright side of life. Not to be Pollyanna, but…to want to do my part to make things a little better. I enjoy what I’m doing, it gives me energy, too. It feeds…the Lord’s grace in me.”
Another one of Father Al’s mottoes is, “Some people invest their money in stocks and bonds, real estate, gambling, etc. But I invest in people, especially the discarded and forgotten people.” That belief stems from his time at Loyola High School in Los Angeles where he took part in an outreach program that led him to teach Catholicism to young Hispanic children in a poor area of town. He relished the experience of giving and sharing, and has made it a point to do so in various ways ever since.
One of his most rewarding efforts is monthly visits to convalescent homes with a group of fellow volunteers (including an Elvis impersonator) who play music and sing with the residents: “We tell them, ‘You maybe can’t get up and do the things you used to do, but you’re still an important person and we love you and care about you.’”
Looking back on his priesthood, Father Al concludes, “I taught high school for 35 years. I had been involved with Parish Ministry even [then], and I loved to preach, to share the word of God. I’d prepare homilies and try to give examples, stories, illustrations that inspired people. I feel God calling me where I am. I love doing what I’m doing, so the whole combination of outreach and an hour of prayer every day…Tie that all together with what I’m doing, it makes things happen. That’s the fuel that keeps the fire burning.”
For free copies of the Christopher News Note BUILDING A LIFE OF CHARACTER, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: email@example.com