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Pontiac pastor humbled as parish pulls off big surprise

  It took a little "luck of the Irish" to pull it off, but parishioners at St. Mary's Parish in Pontiac recently presented their pastor, Father Thomas Mack, with a memorable surprise.
  During the 10:30 a.m. Mass Aug. 27, parishioners "pulled off a feat never before thought imaginable" by surprising Father Mack with complete arrangements for a trip to Ireland, according to St. Mary's parishioner Jim Bednar.
  Two weeks earlier, associate pastor Father Thomas Holloway announced at all parish Masses that he wanted to send Father Mack on a dream vacation, "something he (Father Mack) would never do for himself," Bednar told The Catholic Post. Because Father Mack was out of town that weekend, Father Holloway was able to let the entire parish in on his secret plan to arrange a trip to Ireland for him. Many parishioners contributed to show their appreciation for Father Mack's "sensitivity to the wishes of the parish" during a recent renovation project and in other matters, Bednar said.
  On the morning the parish broke the news to Father Mack, the choir and organist sang, "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" and St. Mary's School student Kaitlyn O'Keefe came up the aisle performing an Irish step dance. Behind Kaitlyn was the parish's 6-foot statue of St. Patrick, being pulled by two high school youth, and St. Mary student Jordan Jolly, dressed as a leprechaun with a pot of gold.
  At the rear of the procession were parishioner Lori Duffy and parish council president Chuck Handley, who when they reached the sanctuary told Father Mack "how much of a  blessing he was to the parish" and presented him with plane tickets, car rental, lodging and food vouchers for a trip to Ireland with a guest, Bednar said. He added that Father Mack wasn't given a cash gift because parishioners knew he would insist upon giving it away.
  Father Mack told The Catholic Post this week that he and his mother plan to visit the Emerald Isle sometime next spring. "They didn't have to do it," he said of the parishioners' efforts, "but it was a nice surprise. I was really humbled by it."
(The Catholic Post, September,2000, made the trip 11 May 2001)

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