No one has taught me more about the importance of prayer, laughter and joy than
Fr. Bishop-Elect David Konderla. Sorry, that’s going to take some getting used to.
Friday, May 13, he was named as the Bishop-Elect of the Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I think my first words when Scott woke me at 6am were, “Nooooooo!” Followed shortly by, “Will he make his own crozier?” Answer: yes.
The things you’ll read about Fr. David will share what a great homilist he is (it’s all true), the great skills he has in the wood shop (yes, he’s crafted two, soon-to-be three, croziers), his love of Aggies (whoop) and his joy in being a priest (also true). But there’s an image I carry of Fr. David, and I will for all my living days.
Our preemie was just a few months old, back in the hospital and it was our roughest stay post-NICU. He was hooked up to so many tubes and wires I lost count. And in walked Fr. David. He had been at the family ranch and was dressed in his outdoor clothes. It was the first, and only, time I ever saw him without his collar. His normally jovial, witty, matter-of-fact self headed straight toward Luke’s hospital bed and we began to pray.
For me, he’s always been a straight shooter. And a hilariously funny one at that. “Pray like a mom, not like a nun,” he told me in the confessional, as I lamented about my lack of a prayer life. I was praying for the life I did not have. He helped me the love one God gave me.
No visit to College Station has ever been complete without a stop by St. Mary’s to give him a hug, high five and a thumbs up.
My husband, Scott, has worked with him for 13 years. First, as a pastor, then Vocations Director (where they cracked all the Aggie jokes during staff meetings), to campus minister at our beloved Aggieland. Tulsa, I hope you realize he’s a missionary for more one cause. You know those Aggie Catholics.
He’s laughed with us, held our hands as we wept for our preemie, dined at our dining room table, joked with our kids and loved our family for so many years. It’s going to be hard to let him go and I know we aren’t the only ones. He is the second of 12 kids!
When we asked him to be our oldest daughter’s Godfather, we prayed – hard – that he would say yes. Because let’s be honest. When you say yes to being a Godparent to the Whitaker kids, it’s a full-time prayer job. We also permanently rope you into the family. Amazingly, he did not run away.
Two years ago, we snapped this photo at Bishop Mike Sis’ ordination and now we’re eagerly awaiting his. Isn’t the Holy Spirit awesome?
It’s true, I am heartbroken for Aggieland, especially the permanent parishioners at St. Mary’s who have to wish another Aggie priest a fond farewell. But, as his very wise (and former Catholic school classmate) predecessor is famous for saying, I know he will most definitely “bloom where’s he’s planted.” It’s what great priests do. The people of Tulsa will surely adore him as much as thousands of Central Texas Catholics do. Y’all darn well better take care of him.
Oh, and Rome? If y’all could start picking bishops from a diocese other than Austin, that would be fantastic.
Fr. David, you’ll always have a spot at our dining room table. But, more importantly, you have a permanent spot in our family prayers. We love you and can’t wait to hug your neck on June 29!