It was a typical Sunday evening in Dahlgren Chapel, the Chapel Choir was busy rehearsing for the 9:30pm Mass, and student coordinators were preparing for the liturgy. As I was directing the rehearsal of the anthem, I glanced to my left and saw Fr. Rick Curry, S.J. sitting in the front row of the side transept, vested and ready to go. Surprised at how early he was ready, I immediately thought he must need something…maybe there was a problem or question…he must want to talk to me. But no, Fr. Curry was fine and there were no questions. He just wanted to listen. He smiled and listened to the choir sing, loving the harmony of the student’s voices.
When Fr. Curry died in late December, his death was followed by a flood of tributes extolling the many accomplishments of an amazing Jesuit Brother and Priest who overcame many obstacles and achieved much. From the Funeral Mass, to the University Memorial, to the articles in the Washington Post and New York Times, Fr. Curry was remembered as a man for others, as one who constantly worked to build up the lives of others.
And yet, in the midst of recalling his tremendous work, we also remember Fr. Curry as a pastor and friend. Those who attended the 9:30pm Mass will remember his call to serve others with the admonition to “wash each other’s feet”. The Chapel Choir students will remember him as their “No. 1 Fan”. I will remember a friend, whose encouragement and support helped me grow in my understanding of who I am as a minister to our students.
At Georgetown University we focus on how we live out our Jesuit values, from being women and men for others to being contemplatives in action. To me, Rick Curry lived out those values every day, but I will most remember him for his love – his love for the students, his love for the veterans and people in need, his love for those with whom he worked, and yes, his love for me. I remember sitting next to him at a faculty meeting when Rick had just returned to work following one of his health scares. I asked him if he would be teaching the next semester, and he said yes, that he could not imagine not being with his students. That is how I will remember Rick Curry.
As the Spring semester has gone on these past weeks, I still look over to my left from time to time, and I still expect to see Rick sitting there, vested in priestly garb, smiling at the beauty of the students voices. Sometimes it makes me sad, but mostly it makes me remember. And so after glancing to the side, I look back at the students in front of me, and try to show them the same love that Fr. Curry showed me.
Written by Dr. Jim Wickman, Director of Liturgy, Music, and Catholic Life at Georgetown University.