As I asked people last week about the Rev. Kenneth Paul retiring, many of them kind of chuckled and said something like "We'll never be able to replace him."
I'm not sure why they laughed. It's absolutely true. Fr. Paul is one of those unique individuals you never forget, from his British accent (I assume acquired in his time at Oxford) to his stories about his father to his love of liturgy and his endless compassion for the poor and the outcast.
One thing I didn't really get to explore in the stories is the fact that with Fr. Paul Shreveport-Bossier is also losing its most prominent voice for liberal theology. I could always count on Fr. Paul to provide an eloquent defense of the left side of any controversial issue. He never worried that his might be the minority opinion. He just stuck to his convictions, as any person of faith should.
Here's a few of his observations from my interview about his retirement that didn't make it to the paper:
One of his guiding principles: "All God's creation is sacred - humanity, the environment, everything."
Challenges to ministry that he has seen, "people who think that God is static, who believe that one person is better than another because of socioeconomic status or sexual preference."
"Morality has to do with all of life. It has to do with the way we handle the things of life: sex, money the environment."
"(The religious community) needs to do two things: stop talking so much about God as if he was speaking to us directly all the time. And in that silence adore the silent one who speaks to us as a community of faith. The community is a covenant community called into being by God. We hear him most clearly in the life of the community."
Photo: Greg Pearson/The Times