I met with the great local writer and Patch contributor Rafael Alvarez at Spro in Hampden on Thursday morning with the intention of just talking shop.
Alvarez, wearing a dress shirt, slacks and crab-adorned tie, said we would only be able to talk for about a half hour because he had a funeral to attend.
He said he was going to the funeral of Edward McNally—a priest and former executive director of the Franciscan Center—at Ss. Phillip and James’ Catholic Church in Charles Village.
He mentioned his obituary had been in The Baltimore Sun.
I hadn’t noticed.
But this being Smaltimore I’d been acquainted with McNally.
The first time I met him was while I was writing a story about a Stoop Storytelling workshop in May of 2011.
McNally, and a handful of other people, attended the class at the Waldorf School so that series founders, Laura Wexler and Jessica Henkin, could help them shape their tales.
I remember that McNally told a story about his travels out west and trying to come to peace with a relationship gone bad. He needed more structure, but seemed enthusiastic about learning to tell stories. Unfortunately, McNally wasn’t mentioned in my article.
After the class McNally, who was legally blind, was looking for a ride. I volunteered and he asked to be taken to meet with someone at Evergreen Cafe on Cold Spring Lane.
On the short car trip, we talked a bit about his work at the Franciscan Center and him being a New York native. I told him about being educated at a Franciscan university in New York. Before he got out of the car, he handed me a card and suggested that maybe I could do a story about the center. It was a bit out of the defined coverage area for North Baltimore Patch but I told him I’d look into it.
I bumped into him a few more times at Charmington’s after that. We exchanged greetings, he would always mention the center and I made some vague commitments to follow up and write a story.
Eventually a big enough dog and pony show was held at the center with the kick off of The Harvest for the Hungry food drive in March. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman all attended and got to speak their piece.
But after all the speeches, I sought McNally out, and he happily showed me around the center. Letting me record video of the building, food pantry and clothing stock. He seemed very proud of the work being done at the center.
But in a rush against deadline I filed a quick and dirty piece, just noting the start of the drive, quoted the prepared remarks of the elected officials and posted a few photos.
I knew I’d let the real story, the work of people like McNally, go unnoticed, but I told myself I’d be back to tell the real story. Because I knew the best story had to be about McNally the legally blind priest who wanted to learn to tell stories.
But the chance to tell the story is gone, and I think I’m worse off for not getting to tell it, and that my readers missed something when I didn’t take the time to tell it.
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