Sitting with Fr. Charlie Sitter, SJ

"Stone cold", said Charlie twice about the chocolate milk
I offered to his hunched up and shaky form,
so recently reworked by the angry artist
known as Virus, stuck in a dark, destructive style.

When back I came with a warmed cup from the kitchen
Charlie was a different man. He craddled the steamy sugar
to his cheeks--first left, then right, then left again--
sighing such a depth of contentment
that suddenly all seemed right with the sinister world.

Now, two days later, those same colorless cheeks are caverns
framing a sink hole that bottoms out in Hades,
from which one tortured, volcanic breath erupts
and returns with a nail-on-chalkboard chorus
repeating everytime as if ad infinitum.

His poster of history's many popes, save the lastest,
the mini menorah atop of the TV,
his sleeping scarf, which just the night before
bandaged his sore, cold throat,
all adorn a room famished by death
and as sultry as a desert island
to keep Charlie's bones from knocking
together under the tight tarpaulin of his skin.

I sit in vigil alone,
with a late morning hunger lunging on its leash towards lunch,
alone and aware
that my clawing stomach and his gaping mouth
are worlds apart four feet distant,
rendered incommunicable by a two-faced loneliness
both of us share.

Greg Kennedy, SJ is assigned to the spiritual exercises ministry at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre in Guelph, Ontario. Novalis will publish Greg's book - “Reupholstered Psalms” - on March 1, 2020.

  • Peter Bisson SJ
    Posted at 07:47h, 12 May Reply

    Thank you so much Greg. Charlie could be brashly direct, and yet a consummate and gracious gentleman. Thank you for writing.

  • Carol von Zuben
    Posted at 08:14h, 12 May Reply

    Greg, Knowing that you are with our friends at Rene Goupil House is very consoling to me and I’m sure to many others.Thank you for being such a beautiful presence for them and for every smile and kind deed you do during this very difficult time.

  • Bernice Dookhan-Khan
    Posted at 10:24h, 12 May Reply

    Thanks Greg for this sharing. I am happy that you are helping at Rene Goupil House at this critical time.
    Blessings to everyone.

  • Bernard Carroll SJ
    Posted at 10:30h, 12 May Reply

    Thank you Greg for being there and for writing this poem, describing so well the pain and the comfort of cold and warm chocolate milk. I can picture Charlie swishing it from one side to the other with delight and then abandoning himself to God a short time later.

  • Dave Reid
    Posted at 10:59h, 12 May Reply

    Stark beauty from a beautiful human about a beautiful human <3

  • Anna Llorin
    Posted at 12:42h, 12 May Reply

    Take care, Greg. You are top of mind as you care for your brothers.

  • EstherGrace
    Posted at 14:17h, 12 May Reply

    I’m glad you’ve shared your poem. and that you were there with the warmed chocolate milk – even though I don’t believe I’ve known either one of you. You’ve communicated so much. Thank you.

  • Linda Conway
    Posted at 14:29h, 12 May Reply

    Chi mii gwetch, dear priest, for that telling poem; alone or not I could not tell, though I know full well that you were and are alright. Rest In Peace!

  • Gerald (Gerry) Forest, SJ
    Posted at 15:38h, 12 May Reply

    What a beautiful way of looking at life and also
    the rewards that are waiting. May one not feel
    abandoned at this time. God bless Greg. , and
    thank you.

  • Indira Noro
    Posted at 15:52h, 12 May Reply

    To have a caring person at one’s side as one makes the transition from this life to the next is a great blessing. Thank you Father Greg for being there. May the Holy Spirit grant you and all your brothers consolation at this difficult time.

  • Michelle Mahoney
    Posted at 16:32h, 12 May Reply

    Thank you, Greg for this heart breaking, heart filling poem. It has helped to release tears long overdue.
    God’s blessings on you all during these very sacred times and moments. Continued prayers.

  • Grace Colella
    Posted at 17:46h, 12 May Reply

    I feel as though I got to know him a little.

    Thank you Greg, and take good care!

  • Karen Arthurs
    Posted at 08:37h, 13 May Reply

    How vividly you paint life and death with a consoling heart. Prayerful Blessings.

  • Dennis Galon
    Posted at 16:35h, 14 May Reply

    Beautiful, Greg. I trust you will eventually launch your book of poetry in Guelph. I covet a signed copy.

    Dorothy, who always reads igNation before I do, asked me if I knew Charlie Sitter. I demurred, until I read Obrigewitch’s May 14 piece. That reminded me that Charlie was the very first Jesuit I had ever met. Sadly our paths never crossed after that day in Regina in the summer of 1962.

  • Viola Athaide
    Posted at 00:00h, 16 May Reply

    How vividly you have portrayed your meaningful moments with Fr. Charlie.
    Thank you, Greg, for sharing the agony you both shared.

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