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Consider This | Govt submits proposed changes to deal

“Well done, well done, my good and faithful one. Welcome to the place where you belong.”
— The Afters

Apart from my parents, there are three persons who have made an indelibly impactful impression on my life, each of whom was inextricably connected to Saint John’s University in Minnesota: the former Fr. Bonaventure Dean, Fr. Rene McGraw and Monsignor Preston Moss.

Fr. Bonaventure (John) Dean simultaneously served as prior of Saint Augustine’s Monastery and headmaster of St. Augustine’s College. He left the priesthood in 1971, the same year that I graduated from St. Augustine’s College. I was extremely fortunate and will forever treasure three days we shared together in Windsor, Ontario, three weeks before he departed us on May 16, 2011 having lost his 17-year battle to prostate cancer in Canada, the country that he had called home for the last 40 years of his earthly sojourn.

Fr. Rene McGraw was my philosophy professor at Saint John’s University (SJU). He retires this year from teaching the subject that he loved and mastered, after serving decades as a philosophy professor at SJU. We still correspond weekly and I enthusiastically anticipate my frequent visits to Saint John’s, where we discuss a myriad of subjects, including current world affairs and developments in The Bahamas, a place that he knows well, although he has never visited.

Monsignor Preston Moss was a close, personal friend, spiritual advisor and confidante for most of my life. Last November, before returning to Florida for further medical treatment for the cancer that had enveloped his body, we spent a memorable afternoon together at his home on Lakeview Drive, reminiscing about our shared experiences during my childhood and our adult lives and recalling the immense joy and incomparable satisfaction he experienced as the pastor of St. Anselm’s Parish for 24 years until his retirement in 2016.

The saints welcomed Monsignor Moss at 3:50 p.m. on Monday, March 14, 2019 after a valiant battle with cancer.

Therefore, this week, I would like to Consider this… How will I remember the man we all knew as Monsignor Preston Moss?

The early years

My earliest recollection of Fr. Moss was a Saturday morning in June 1965 when I served as an altar boy at his first Mass after his priestly ordination. For many years thereafter, Fr. Moss, as he was then known, often reminded me that I served his first Mass, a seminal experience that concretized a deep, life-long friendship.

My childhood friends, Olvin Rees and Gregory Bonamy, and I served as altar boys at St. Joseph’s for Fr. Moss, sometimes as many as three services on Sundays, including Mass, funerals and at benediction after Sunday School.

While I was a student at St. Joseph’s, Fr. Moss introduced my family to Elizabeth “Liz” Wenner, a lay teacher from St. Cloud, Minnesota, who taught at St. Joseph’s Catholic School. She later married Paul Steil, of Cold Spring, Minnesota, and both became life-long friends of the Galanis family. They “adopted” me and welcomed me to their family when I attended SJU many years later. They remain very close family friends, all because of the introduction by Fr. Moss. Paul, Liz and members of their family arrive in Nassau today for Monsignor Moss’ funeral this week.

When Olvin, Greg and I applied for St. Augustine’s College (SAC), despite our youthful anxiety about our worthiness of being invited to attend SAC, Fr. Moss reassured us that we would be going there. He always seemed to portend what the future would hold for his youthful acolytes.

I vividly recall one when day Fr. Moss delightedly informed my parents and me that his personal friends, Ernest L. Monty and his wife, of Vermont in the United States, had offered to pay my high school fees at SAC. It was truly a blessing to my parents who had eight other children to educate. Although I never met nor spoke to the Montys, I continuously kept them abreast of my academic progress at SAC, always with a thankful note for their unsolicited, magnanimous gift that Fr. Moss had arranged.

On Sundays, after Mass, Fr. Moss visited our home, always with the greeting “Peace be to this home!” He immediately proceeded into the kitchen and opened the pots of food that my mother had prepared for Sunday dinner, while simultaneously asking, “Zoe, what did you cook today?” My mother then dished a meal for him, which he shared with our family. Fr. Moss was as much a part of my family as my parents and siblings. His visits were always delightful and treasured.

The middle years

When I decided to go to college, there was absolutely no doubt that I would attend Saint John’s University, although I considered attending the University of Toronto. Both Fr. Moss and Fr. Bonaventure insisted that, since I was only 16 years old when I graduated from SAC, SJU was the best choice because they felt that I would receive a better education there, especially given its size and its quality education. Also, because it was their alma mater, they felt that I would be better served by an SJU education. Although at the time I did not fully appreciate their wisdom, they were absolutely right. I was soon Minnesota-bound, largely aided by a full scholarship, influenced, I am certain, by Monsignor Preston Moss.

Before leaving on my new student sojourn at SJU, Fr. Moss gathered with my family to pray for me. He regularly inquired of my parents about my progress at SJU.

During summer vacations from SJU, I spent many days with Fr. Moss, talking about my future and our country, and frequently going for long swimming outings on beaches that I did not know existed in Nassau.

One day, while swimming, because of our continually evolving friendship, Fr. Moss insisted that I call him “Preston”, an appellation that was initially awkward, but from that point on, to me, he was Preston, no longer Fr. Moss. Years later, while at SJU, Fr. Rene McGraw, in like manner, insisted that I call him Rene.

During our many, long discussions while at St. Joseph’s, SAC, and SJU, Monsignor Moss educated me about the prominent diseases that afflicted persons of color, especially sickle cell anemia and the silent killer, high blood pressure. We frequently talked about the death-dealing effects of stress in our society. We discussed social, cultural and political developments at home and abroad, and the importance of making a personal, positive contribution to national development.

The first time I heard about economic recessions and budget deficits was from Preston Moss. Our conversations would invariably return to the role of the church and the importance of Catholic social teaching. He discussed the importance of reading and critical thinking, about the role of the Catholic Church in our society and of the importance of personal integrity in human intercourse. His contributions to my personal growth and maturity are incalculable.

Despite his forceful personality and strength of character, Monsignor Moss often encountered health challenges. He never, ever allowed those health challenges to slow him down or dampen his spirit. He simply referred to them as “growing pains” that would pass in the fullness of time. After I graduated from SJU and Rutgers University and while working in New York City at Arthur Andersen, Monsignor Moss had surgery on both of his feet in a New York hospital. When I visited him there, we spent hours discussing his health and my future. He encouraged me to return to The Bahamas after my work experience in New York. As usual, I accepted his wisdom and returned home in June 1981.

The later years

Preston Moss was a complex person who lived a simple life. His life’s work in the church was aptly described by Philip Brave Davis, who, on learning of his death, stated that “Monsignor Preston Moss spent six decades serving his God through service to God’s people in The Bahamas.”

During our meeting last November, Monsignor Moss recounted with immense pride the many persons who contributed to the erection of the new church at St. Anselm. In particular, he noted the superlative pastoral work that was performed by Deacon Leviticus “Lou” Adderley, another SJU graduate. He said that he hoped one day Lou would be named the first Bahamian saint. I told him that, while I loved Lou, as many others did, I truly believed that honor should go to him (Moss) — that he should be the first Bahamian to be canonized by the Catholic Church. In his characteristically inimitable humble manner, he simply replied, “No, Phil, no. I am not worthy.” Only time will tell.

On that November afternoon last year, I believe we both knew that he was approaching the end of his journey. We discussed many things more deeply than ever before. I thanked him for his friendship, his many gifts and support over the years and for his love. He responded that the blessing was really his. His parting words were that I should always remember the blessings that I received, the many persons who had significantly contributed to my development, and that I should pay it forward. I assured him that many of my life’s decisions were inspired by his example of sharing and giving.

Conclusion

Monsignor Moss’ sermons were iconic and legendary. So were his annual Christmas messages that he sent to friends, instead of Christmas cards. Throughout his entire priestly ministry, his signature words were “Dearly beloved” and his parting word was always “Peace!”

On the night he died, I did not sleep a wink. My mind was endlessly revisiting the countless, wonderful and enlightening times we spent together.

I can only imagine that, on Monday past, as he transitioned from this world to the next, Preston Alexander Moss was ushered into the throng of saints who greeted him with jubilant fanfare and welcomed him with a triumphant angelic chorus embodied in the words of the song, “Well Done”, by the gospel group, The Afters. The lyrics are:

 

“What will it be like when my pain is gone

And all the worries of this world just fade away?

What will it be like when you call my name

And that moment when I see you face-to-face?

I’m waiting my whole life to hear you say

Chorus.

Well done, well done

My good and faithful one

Welcome to the place where you belong

Well done, well done

My beloved child

You have run the race and now you’re home

Welcome to the place where you belong

 

What will it be like when tears are washed away

And every broken thing will finally be made whole?

What will it be like when I come into your glory

Standing in the presence of a love so beautiful?

I’m waiting my whole life for that day

I will live my life to hear you say

Chorus

What will it be like when I hear that sound?

All of heaven’s angels crying out

Singing holy, holy, holy are you, Lord

Singing holy, holy, holy are you, Lord

Singing holy, holy, holy are you, Lord

Waiting my whole life for that day

Until then I’ll live to hear you say

 Chorus

Well done.”

To further enjoy this beautiful song, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZu7mfYS_VY.

 Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis and Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to pgalanis@gmail.com.

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