Tuesday, May 16, 2000

Academic stays active shepherding a parish

By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MONTGOMERY — From the common lessons of school teaching and church preaching, Father Michael Graham brought to his homilies at Good Shepherd Church an educator's passion and sensibilities, colleagues and parishioners said Monday.

        They expect the same to be true in reverse at Xavier University, where Father Graham was named its 34th Jesuit president.

        “He's been a great force in bringing to the people a better understanding of faith,” said Hal Korbee, a Symmes Township attorney, Good Shepherd parishioner and past president of the Xavier alumni association. “And I think because of his experience here, he'll be able to understand how college students should better be able to serve their churches.”

        Father Graham, 47, has for eight years been a weekend priest at the Montgomery church, which has 12,000 parishioners.

        Father Thomas Axe, a priest at Good Shepherd, recalled how Father Graham weaved into a homily his transition from classroom teaching to university administration, and how he valued keeping in touch with former students.

        His “students” at Good Shepherd are looking for ward to that. As weekend priest, Father Graham has given sermons, penance services, Holy Week duties, and a little slice of life — his own.

        Mr. Korbee, for one, recalled how a homily on faith told of the serious illness of a close relative. And how she overcame it.

        “He'll take an experience he has with, say, students at Xavier, and be able to relate that to a particular gospel message,” said Jim Goyette, 60, of Symmes Township, a Good Shepherd parishioner for 18 years. “He packs the house.”

        He is able to connect his personal experience with Scripture, said Father Axe.


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