Years ago, as a young sports writer on a slow climb to become a Major League Baseball writer, I took note of something.

My Tampa Tribune sports editor Paul C. Smith kept requesting that I bounce from bureau-to-bureau to cover sports in different towns throughout the western part of Florida. In the span of eight years, I lived in seven different places. I finally did achieve my goal when I was given the Tampa Bay Rays beat job. I settled in St. Pete Beach, Fla., where I watched the sun set into the Gulf of Mexico from my small back porch. It made my start in Winter Haven worth it, where thick snakes, red fire ants, and lonesomeness marked my time.

Here’s what I noticed: If my local Catholic parish was dead in my temporary home, I saw that the Pastor lacked light in his eyes. If the parish was dynamic, I saw that its Pastor loved the Eucharist, Our Blessed Mother and homilized with cheerful boldness. Easy to connect, right?

When my uncle, Msgr. Thomas Wells, was gruesomely murdered in his Mother Seton rectory in 2000, I began to think more about the pastors from those towns. One of the most joy-filled and impactful priests in the history of Washington D.C. had that light stolen from his eyes. Satan’s work was done; it was accomplished through the large pocket knife of Robert Paul Lucas.

" What I’m trying to do now is love better. My prayer life was always decent, now it’s amplified. I’m trying to spread the faith more. "

After “Tommy’s” death, many hundreds of his former parishioners told my large extended family how he’d changed the course of their lives. He’d saved marriages, redirected suicidal folks, converted atheists, encouraged many men to enter seminaries and ignited groundswells of intentional Catholicism wherever he went for 29 years.

Nine years after his murder and my own failed brain surgery, I called upon “Tommy” to save my life – and a light-popping, neuro-ICU room miracle unfolded in front of his best friend, Fr. Jim Stack. It was then that I began to think about the supernatural power of the Catholic priest.

My book about priests has lived in me for two decades. I used to always kick it out of my mind, thinking I had no right to encourage a priest how to be a priest. As a Catholic layman, what gave me the right to offer a blueprint on how modern-day priests “get it right?”
Then the summer of 2018 arrived, like an old Buick blowing a tire and dragging its axel across a scorched Catholic landscape. McCarrick. The Pa. grand jury report. Pope Francis’s silence in the face of Vigano’s startling accusations. Bransfield. Homosexual networks. Weakened devotions. Uninspired liturgies. Bleeding sheep. Dying flocks. There is one answer to this disarray. Outside the finger of God, there is one answer. The parish priest must die now. As our Church finds itself entrenched in its sickness, parish priests worldwide must make of themselves a living sacrifice now. They must desire to become martyrs for their flock. It is not the Pope, bishops, theologians, philosophers, Catholic educators, evangelists, or flashy YouTube videos that will save the Church – it will be saved through the day-to-day witness of the faithful parish priest who wants to become a saint. When his parishioners begin to see that he cares intensely about protecting their souls, conversion will occur – because they will regard their Pastor as their father. But until that happens, nothing will change in the travailed Catholic Church – its sickness will just spread.
Kevin Wells

Kevin Wells


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