Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Fr. Pinto

 Life is full of surprises, isn't it? You never know how attached to someone you really are, how much you love them, until they are gone. As you have probably gathered by now, I lost a dear mentor and beloved father just a few days ago. I began going through the formation program that he wrote 6 years ago. 6 years ago, I thought I was pretty well where I needed to be. Until a good friend, another homeschooling mom, talked to me about the DJM formation and asked if I'd be interested. I politely said...maybe, but didn't mean it, honestly. Then I was invited to a family potluck where Fr. Pinto was visiting. I and my family went to see other friends. Fr. Pinto sat in a chair off to a corner of the room, a bit intimidating in appearance. He was a very large indian man with a heavy beard and eyes that would pierce the deepest part of your soul. My friend leaned in to me and whispered "Go talk to him. You want to talk to this man." Um, ok, what was my deepest, most heart wrenching question? Ah yes. Here goes. I still can't believe I did it. I slipped into the chair next to him and said, "Father, I just heard about an old man who was beaten to death by some teenagers late at night and killed. Father, he was a prayerful man, went to adoration every day. I am really struggling with this, why do you suppose this happen?" He looked off into the distance with complete peace yet with total confidence answered, "Well, that is a hard one, but all I can tell you is, you know the souls of the Holy Innocents? they were slaughtered for baby Jesus, and they were glad. They wanted to be martyred for his sake." I was completely baffled. But like every other time he has ever spoken to me, it made me think long and hard about, my trust in God, and my love for him which go hand in hand. He was what you would call, a straight-shooter. He was very blunt, and unapologetic about it. He would often say things to us like, "You see, that's the problem, we don't really want to know the truth..." and then he would let out a deep, hearty laugh, the kind I would imagine if God the Father laughed, that is how it would sound, almost like thunder, but joyful thunder, if that even makes sense.
He was never scandalized by human weakness, in fact, it made him laugh. I guess, in a way, this is God the Father's attitude, as nothing is too difficult for Him to overcome in us.

When I think of how he related to those who were privileged to be his spiritual children, I am reminded of my voice teacher in college. We worked together for many hours a week. He rarely gave me positive feedback. The majority of my lesson time was spent in correction. In his group of voice majors, I imagined that I was the most in need of improvement. We were like one family though being instructed by the same father figure. One day I ate lunch with the pianist that always worked with us and him. She looked at me with a smile and said, "you know you're his favorite. He says you're the best. That's why he's so hard on you." I was stunned, but I had a new found confidence in myself I had never had before.

I believe as his spiritual children, we were all his favorites. He was passionate about one thing, leading souls to perfection and union with the Holy Trinity, and if he had to whack you over the head with a 2 by 4 to get you there a little faster, he was perfectly willing to. He loved us just the way we were, but he would be damned if he was going to leave us that way. Whenever I had the privilege of meeting with him, I had no doubt that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me directly through him.

So, while I know as a disciple I should be rejoicing at his glorious state in heaven, and trusting God that all is for good, I still have a lump in my throat, an ache in my heart, and continuous waves of grief that are overwhelming at times. And while he tried his best not to allow us to become too attached to him so that our hearts would become only attached to God, I'm afraid I faltered there a bit. As my own natural father says, "this too shall pass." but I will forever be changed by the life and ministry of Fr. Pinto. He taught me to believe that God has called me to be something great, and I, by His grace, am capable of becoming all He intended for me to be. I am so grateful for the time I had with him, and until we meet again, I will try my best to live as he taught us: For the glory of God and the salvation of souls!

May you rest in His everlasting peace, Fr. Pinto.


  1. I think your description of Father's laugh is spot on. Joyful thunder.

  2. Oh, V, I know this while concept of giving you a virtual hug is dumb but I love you and if you were here I'd give you a real one.

  3. I am sad I never got a chance to actually know him...

  4. Thanks, Lisa. Frances, you will still get to know him as you go through formation, he will be with you every step of the way.

  5. Thank you so much for writing this. Years later, when I miss him, I still Google his name every now and then. What a wonderful love and guide for so many of us!