Father Duke To Know Him Is To Love Him

Father Duke at S.S. Cyril & Methodius has been here over thirty years. He has given us faith, trust, and understanding. Yes, we have even felt his wrath when we did something stupid, but he always understood.

Remember when we were kids, if we saw a priest, it was always “Good morning” or “Good afternoon Father” and that was it. With Father Duke, parents, children, and grandchildren give him a hug when he does something special, which is very often.

I met Father Duke when he was six or seven years old. He was such a quiet, shy little boy and so very sweet.  His sister Carol and I were best friends in grade school and high school, which was upstairs at St. Francis.  Sometimes he would walk to school with us.

I loved his entire family. I didn’t see him for several years till I moved to Lakewood. I was so happy to hear he was a priest at St. Cyrils.

He has done so much for so many. Because of him and our wonderful teachers, S.S. Cyril & Methodius became a Blue Ribbon School, the only one around here. The children all love him so much. Why in God’s name would the Bishop take him away from us and send him somewhere else? Father Duke will probably be retiring in a couple of years anyway, so why can’t he remain here? I’m sure the new priest from St. Rose is a very special person, so why not give him another parish.

My precious daughter passed away fourteen months ago from cancer. Father Duke celebrated her Mass.  People are still talking about how beautiful it was. When my daughter was in the hospital, she was in and out of consciousness. Father Duke was there every day to give her Communion if she was awake or bless her when she wasn’t. When she came home she rarely woke up, but he still came by every other day. Father was there to help me and keep me strong through the saddest time of my life, that’s the kind of priest he is. What will we do without him?

Father Jerome Duke is not the quiet, shy boy I knew so long ago. With his ever-present cowboy hat and boots, he does things a little differently. One day I asked him how he got the way he is. He just laughed and said, “I work darn hard at it!”

Father Duke, we just want you to know how much we all care about you and how very much we will all miss you. God Bless and keep you always.

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Volume 6, Issue 4, Posted 8:31 AM, 02.24.2010