This time last year he had his Christmas cards sealed with good wishes and in the mail to his many friends near and far. But this year there will be no Christmas card, only the old ones to read again and reminisce, for he who sent greetings of love is no longer of this world.

The Rev. Frank Perkovich left his earthly life July 16, 2018, in his beloved hometown, Chisholm. He had been born — very fittingly — on Christmas Eve of 1928 and died five months before his 90th birthday.

It was my honor to be among his friends. "Meet the press," was his standard greeting to me. In loving memory of Father Perk, who graciously performed the rite of my joining the church, I share excerpts of his Christmas cards. His card from Christmas 2016, two years ago:

Santa lives at the North Pole.

Jesus is everywhere.

Santa rides in a sleigh

Jesus rides on the wind and walks on water.

Santa fills your stockings with goodies

Jesus supplies all your needs.

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited

Jesus stands at your door and knocks... and then enters your heart.

You have to stand in line to see Santa

Jesus is as close as the mention of his name.

Santa says, "You better not cry"

Jesus says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you."

While Santa puts gifts under the tree

Jesua became our gift and died on the tree.

It's obvious there is really no comparison.

We need to remember WHO Christmas is all about.

We need to put Christ back in Christmas.

Jesus is still the reason for the season.

And Father Perk's personal letter on the card reads in part,

"Having turned the page of life to my 88th year and having entered my 13th year of retirement, I continue my abbreviated priestly journey by land, sea and air bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to the people I meet everywhere. With 2017 fast approaching, I reflect upon the fact that my yardstick of life grows shorter; nonetheless, I approach the future, as I always have, with the utmost confidence knowing that God pilots my life and that He will steer my celestial omnibus to the heavenly destiny which I have always sought.

"Each year presents us with new challenges, and I know my worldly journey will again be punctuated with emotional peaks and valleys as I endeavor to negotiate the ever-changing theological, philosophical, political and moral landscape of the world... I take great solace in knowing that if God brings me to it, He will bring me through it... And now as we once again approach the joyous celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ... May God bless you, watch over you, and keep you in His loving hands at this most sacred, joyful, and wonderful time of year."

Then, in his class brand of humor: "My name is Father Frank Perkovich, and I approve this message."

We will miss your Christmas card this year of 2018, Father Perk. But surely you are sending celestial greetings in your heavenly home.

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