Pastor Bob’s message at Grace City today was Identity, Purpose, Quest; using the example of The Rich Young Man in Mark chapter 10. Part of Bob’s message centered around how Jesus gives us an identity, a purpose and a quest.
Someone sent me a link to a Virginian-Pilot article about TQ. The article, orginally from 1977, quoted a 17 year-old parishioner who said, “They think he is crazy, but he isn’t. He is creative. It took a lot of people a long time to get used to him. I like his style.” I have a small archive or articles about TQ, but I had never seen this one. What’s more amazing is the person quoted was me.
When I put this article together with Bob’s message, I saw more than ever the magnificent gift of knowing TQ. Even at age 17, I recognized TQ was a special person. Today I realize what an influence he had on my life and I’m beginning to see the enormity of his gnerosity by giving me time at the end of his life to make a film about him.
TQ brought identity to every parish he served. Whether it was leading good Shepherd in Alexandria to reinterpreting the gospel for the modern age by driving a VW Beetle down the aisle for Palm Sunday, or encouraging St. Vincent’s to become an integrated parish, TQ emphasized each parish find it’s identity.
Arriving at St. Mary’s, TQ lamented the congregation was “de-Blackized and Romanized,” encouraging them express their African-American heritage and use that culture to enhance the worship there.
Establishing identity is the foundation for discovering your purpose. St. Kateri’s identity as a parish connected to the Poquoson and Tabb communites led to the Thrift Shop, a pillar of the community working hand in hand with local government and other churches to be the safety net. St. Mary’s identity led them to become the preeminent Aftican-American minor Basilica in the U.S. Church of the Holy Family’s search for an international identity birthed that parishes paratnership with a parich in Haiti, leading to water projects, a hospital and a school.
Finally, walking with TQ was always a quest or adventure. His unorthodox “shock liturgy,” run-ins with parishioners and diocesan authorities was the interference he ran to allow parishes to evolve, grow and serve the community. His point-by-point rebuttals to letters of complaint from parishioners and visitors showed his refusal to countenance empty rhetoric or theological ignorance. My favorite “TQ quote” is, “I don’t mind getting in trouble, for the right reason. It doesn’t’ bother me one bit.”