By PAUL LIKOUDIS
With all my heart I want to thank the many Wanderer readers who have supported me with their Masses and prayers through what has been a very challenging time, and is likely to become more challenging.
The July 16 surgery was not a success, and complications required a two-week hospital stay, which has left me extremely exhausted. My surgeon discovered that the rectal tumor is inoperable, and that the cancer has spread to the pelvic wall. On August 13, I began another round of chemotherapy, which will run through the middle or end of December. After that, I will have another MRI to determine to what extent the chemo has worked, and if the cancer has spread to other organs.
I am still praying for a miracle, but also learning that my life is entirely in God’s hands.
A Surprise Phone Call
On the day after the surgery, just moments after I was moved from recovery into my room in the cancer ward at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y., my cell phone rang.
“Is this Paul Likoudis?” asked the voice at the other end of the line.
“Speaking,” I answered.
“This is Cardinal George.”
“Your Eminence, what a surprise and a blessing,” I responded, shocked and in total disbelief.
“I heard you had an operation yesterday, and I wanted to let you know that I am praying for you,” said the cardinal, who has been battling bladder, liver, and kidney cancer since 2006.
This was the first time I have ever received a phone call from a Prince of the Church, and I could not believe I was speaking with Cardinal George. All I could think of was that I wanted to keep the conversation going for as long as I could.
I told the cardinal that the surgery was not a success, and that I hoped I had time to do one more project, on the “Twenty Years War” waged by the U.S. bishops against the Holy See, covering the years 1986-2006. And I told the cardinal that I believed the turning point in the U.S. hierarchy began after his appointment to Chicago in 1997.
I also told him that while going through copies of The Wanderer, and glancing at the headlines, I could not believe that with all the issues before him in Chicago, the late Holy Father, John Paul II, kept “putting more things on your plate,” especially on liturgical issues when the “liturgical wars” were raging as the Holy See sought to bring English Mass and prayer texts into conformity with the original Latin texts.
And I thanked him for all he has done for the Church in the United States and the English-speaking world.
At that point, he thanked me for my work for The Wanderer, and added that while we may have had “differences in approaches,” he never doubted my “intentions or goodwill” — which I took as a compliment.
He closed by asking me for my prayers, and assured me he would keep me in his.
What remains mysterious to me is that Cardinal George called me on my cell phone — a number only family and my closest friends have, and which rarely works. Where he got the number I have no idea; that he got through is certainly a miracle of sorts!
Thanks to all the readers who purchased copies of my Amchurch Comes Out. The book is now sold out!
On August 1, my pastor at St. James, Fr. John Tokaz, OFM Cap., left for a new assignment, where he will be “guardian” of Capuchin novices at their formation house in Boston. The new pastor at St. James is Fr. Bernard Maloney, OFM Cap., who returns to the area after a decade serving in Manhattan and New Paltz, N.Y. For many years, Fr. Maloney was pastor of my territorial parish, Holy Cross, in Ovid, N.Y., and it was after he left that I transferred to St. James. He is a wonderful priest, and St. James is blessed to have him.
I am again in the process of applying for Social Security Disability, and have a lawyer who is helping me. In the meantime, if there are readers who would like to contribute to my benefit fund at St. James, please address your letters to Fr. Maloney, and make checks payable to St. James, with a memo noting it is for my benefit fund. The address is St. James Church, P.O. Box 709, Trumansburg, NY 14886.
I want to thank those who have contributed thus far. I am most grateful, for you have been most helpful; I intend to send personal thank-you notes as soon as I am able.
I also especially want to thank all those readers who have sent letters thanking me for my work at The Wanderer since 1986.
Again, if readers would like to contact me, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Except when I am at the chemo lab and other doctors’ appointments, I will be recovering in my office. The phone number here is 607-582-6650. For those who would like to send mail, the address is P.O. Box 236, Hector, NY. 14841.
Again, with all my heart, thank you to all who are supporting me through this ordeal.