Speeches

My mom needed help writing a speech for a banquet she was hosting in honor of Father Matt Ruhl. I looove speech writing. It is one of my favorite PR things to do. This is what I wrote:

You’d almost have to be a mad man to try and compare Jesus to anyone, let alone the known renegade drunk, Jack Kerouac. Yet, that’s just what Father Matt Ruhl did for a homily once. And not just any homily…a Christmas Eve homily.

Father Matt beat his staff in time with this homily: Jack Kerouac loved the everyday person. He lived and breathed with the everyday person. He broke bread with the everyday person. Kerouac spent time getting to know homeless men, drug users and prostitutes – and recognized the beauty of spirit in all. Jesus loved the everyday person. He lived and breathed with the everyday person. He broke bread with the everyday person. Jesus spent time getting to know homeless men, drug users. And even prostitutes like Mary Magdalene. Jesus, like Kerouac, recognized the beauty of spirit in all. Jack Kerouac was called the pioneer of the beat generation, but really Jesus was the first—not just a pioneer for the beat generation, but for all generations.

I’m not as eloquent as Matt. And my sense of rhythm…almost non-existent, but I do like to think that I caught on to Father Matt’s beat that day I first heard this homily in a Kansas City church. Since that homily, I’ve watched Matt preach great service after great service. I’ve watched him travel across the country not just in service of the Lord by preaching in churches, but also by travelling on bicycle for charity. I’ve watched as he started a BBQ restaurant: traveled to Japan . Now, I’m watching him as he prepares for another journey: Belize.

Matt is a man in love with life, people, the Lord. He is always open to everything: always listening. He’s humble about his accomplishments, but I’ve seen him be consistently great everyday. He’s steadily constant in his service of the Lord. He even provides structure to my own faith in God by the example he sets. I guess you could say he’s like a drummer – giving structure and rhythm to a band. I guess you could say he’s like a beat poet and Kerouac. He lives his life on the road, getting to know the holy contour of life, and finding the spirit in all.

At risk of sounding ‘grossly sentimental’ – a phrase once used in criticism of Kerouac, Father Matt is a Jesuit, a teacher, a friend, a beat poet and…an angel. It isn’t everyday you hear the flapping of angel wings, but with him, it’s almost impossible to miss their beat.

We’ll miss Matt at the University of Scranton and we wish him luck on his next endeavor. We’ll always keep looking out and listening for his beat.

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