(This is a draft Introduction for my new book, Father Rick, Roamin' Catholic, that I am writing. On a Good Friday in 2020, I sit in pandemic times with a niece and her son to tell my 50-year faith journey. I welcome your comments, questions, suggestions, encouragement, and stories that you can post below. It'll help shape the book's journey and content. Please keep those remarks civil and respectful. If you wanted to send me a message rather than post here, my author email is email@example.com.
The questions started soon after the release of Soar, Adam, Soar, my memoir on my late son and its heart-stopping, roller-coaster love story as a Dad.
“You were a priest?”
“You’re proud of your trans son?”
“Are you still Catholic?”
A few journalists startled me with that last question. I particularly remember the first time, when Erika Engels of the Bay Today news chain asked. I paused, a long pause, heading towards a 60,000-word answer when, instead, I said. “That’s another book I’m writing”.
Cue those 60,000 words.
On February 8, 2019, a week after Adam’s book was released, I was a guest on Rita Celli’s Ontario Today, a CBC Radio open-line show. I was anxious. First, even though I had been a public figure preaching for those 11 years as a priest, the more recent 11 years as political staff to three Members of Parliament had me accustomed to hanging more in the background than in front of the microphones.
More unnerving though, I was worried what some callers in the hinterlands might have to say to a former Catholic priest who loved this boy identified as a girl named Rebecca at birth. In Celli’s introduction, perfectly framed, she set the table for her listeners. “Father Rick Prashaw becomes proud father of Adam, his transgender son.” Well, the fourth caller, a man who said he was “Ken from Orillia”, catapulted me past my anxiety straight to his hell. His “In the Bible” damnation of Adam and I actually ended up being “a Godsend” --- for me, the show, and the book tour. I’ll tell that “Ken from Orillia” story later, how I answered and how other callers afterwards doused those hell fires.
Are you still Catholic?
One of the surprising places that my son, Adam, has led me to since his untimely death is being an organ donor advocate. Adam saved four lives because he had registered as a donor at 16 and, equally important, made sure to tell his family his wishes. I was interrupted writing this faith memoir one day to do a survey from a researcher for an organ transplant network keen to improve ways they might contact and communicate with a prospective donor family
during the most difficult circumstances, i.e., the day(s) their loved one is to be pronounced medically or brain dead. While it is sheer impossible to make those days good, or generalize a response that is such a personal family decision, the researcher did do a credible job navigating me through the revisit of that awful weekend at The Ottawa Hospital. When she was done, there were final, demographic questions to answer.
“What religious denomination are you?”
“Do they have Roamin’ Catholic as a choice?”
“No, not that one. I’m Roamin' Catholic. R-o-a-m-i-n.”
“No, we don’t have that one” she chuckled.
She checked off “other”.
Roamin' Catholic. I suspect we are many, even before we count others who have outright quit on the Roman Catholic Church.
On the personal side of writing a memoir, I winced when a young niece once introduced me to her friends as “the uncle who had been a priest, married and divorced”. Is that what goes on my tombstone? Ouch! It became clear. I better be the one to tell my story, in my words. Ego and legacy first sat me down at the computer.