This is an article about a man who did not want me to write it.
A few weeks ago, I gave a commencement speech at a Catholic elementary school. I received the invitation from a 13-year-old young lady, Elisabeth, who began listening to my radio show at 6-and-a-half years of age, who has now finished the eighth grade and prepares, next semester, to enter high school.
Years ago, her mom wrote a letter to me. The mom drove the car one day with her daughter inside. The daughter's book about Helen Keller somehow flew out of the car window as a result of a bump in the road. The mom told the daughter that the busy street made it too dangerous to go back and retrieve the book. Mom tried to console her distraught daughter by saying, "Don't worry, we'll get you another one," to which the little girl said, "I bet if it was a book written by Larry Elder, you'd go back and get it."
After her mother wrote me about the incident, I sent the little girl a signed copy of my first book, and later received a photograph of Elisabeth -- asleep -- clutching my book in her hands. Over the years, Elisabeth and I wrote from time to time, and she would discuss politics, social issues, popular culture and other matters talked about on my radio show.
But this article is not about Elisabeth. It is about the pastor of her school.
As I waited to give my commencement speech, the pastor of the school and I spoke for several minutes. I asked him how and why he chose the priesthood. He told me that he had decided, at a relatively young age, to become a priest, but kept putting the matter off. In fact, he worked in private industry for a number of years, "chasing the almighty dollar." Feeling empty, he decided to pursue his true calling -- that of helping others. So he quit his lucrative job and began the years-long process of becoming a priest. After several assignments, he became the pastor of this school, located in a middle-class neighborhood.
How, I asked, did it feel to make the transition from the private sector to the priesthood? He laughed. "It was easier than you might think. I actually live right here on the grounds," he said, pointing to a residence building. "The church takes care of my bills. I get $1,000 a month, and now I actually have more disposable income than I did before."
He said he felt tremendous pride in helping to shape and mold young people, and send them on their way to the next step. So a few days later, I called him. Would he agree to an interview? I wanted to write about his transition from the private sector to his "calling" and his contribution to our society.