Excited about another year and a new era – The Oxford Eagle

What a week! Tuesday May 10th…my birthday – bloody hell alarm went off at 4:00am, 4:30am, 5:00am, 5:20am with that squeaky noise and got up like that weird cat, Jag (Jaguar) who adopted me in 2016, the “awakening” (meow) was finally right. For five minutes, I want to get inside his head… but I’m afraid I don’t want to come out – so clever!!

A few years ago I quit fighting the birthday thing rolling too fast, I embraced each one as being happily another year older, another year alive, affirmation that God is in control – stand up once more… phew!

So with my mind wide open eagerly anticipating the day in the hands of our Lord, like everyone else, but it was my birthday so I was expecting some special miracle or something to happen. The routine began, two toasts, coffee, a beautiful sunrise, cleaned up, dressed and in St. John’s at 7:15 to set up the altar as sexton for Pastor Fr. Joe Tonos’ last “official” mass… phew , after 18 years, did it really happen?

Mass went well, familiar, read for our office manager who wasn’t sure he could emotionally cope (neither did I), applauded him at the end, selfie, then group photo with many of us in the place of Bruce Newman son, Jax – boom, I just grew up, tall like Bruce! No time for the weary to relax, too many projects, house, yard mowed with John Deere ride-on mower (finally fixed after replacing parts from Beau Coup and help from mentor Bub Brannan) and cordless, Black & Decker.

Wanted to drive my newly purchased one, still have 1971 MGB-GT (world’s best original one-owner MG) and start my 1964 Land Rover Series IIA artwork, but no time – blown away by YOU friends on Facebook me wishing a Happy Birthday and was determined to answer everyone… Thank you all, it was really great!! Especially cool that Scott Coopwood is sharing our May 10 birthday.

Wednesday May 11 – No Mass as we pass from Fr. Joe to Fr. Mark, so first of all…said my beads. Then cleaned the pollen coat off my “parked” MG, key on, electric fuel pump swell noise, choking, neutral, started right away after not driving since Sunday March 20 – at Jimmy’s on North Lamar for no ethanal petrol (that stuff will destroy a combustion engine), hour drive around Oxford, no problems, strong engine, perfect idle…so curative in that I bought my MG new a year after returning of Vietnam from the showroom floor, Continental Cars, St. Louis, MO, trading in a 1967 Pontiac Firebird that I never liked and $1,500… mind blowing, all these years, what a story, sole owner, all original, meticulously maintained by me – can you understand that?…I can’t!

Then I checked my 1964 Land Rover Series IIA (love it), key on, choked, transmission in neutral, push button start engaged, instant start – after eight years of tearing, sweating, work, parts new and old, fitted from all around the world, so many new friends, nothing stops me from driving this classic Brit on our Oxford roads than rebuilding the dreaded front swivel ball sets…I got the parts, i was waiting for the weather to warm up, brain paradigm shift, everything here, no more excuses – lots of anxiety as this is rather a big deal for a spanner wrench like me – but so is everything else – GO STEVE!

The revival (Jag) got me up on Thursday, May 12 at 5:10 a.m., at the church at 7:10 a.m., to set up the altar for the 8:30 a.m. mass, first for the father. Mark Shoffner, a Greenville, MS native, as is Fr. Joe Tonos, from St. Mary’s Basilica in Natchez. Knowing that he was sure he had his own preference as to the setup but was not there to consult, so he did the same as for the father. Joe.

Met Fr Mark on Friday April 22 as he entered the church before Mass with Fr Joe and then co-celebrated. Right away, I could tell he was laid back, a good guy. At 8:20 last Thursday, Fr. Mark finally arrived – phew, and immediately went to the sacristy to introduce me, explain the setup, a few oddities about us – there was no time for anything else!

Mass went well considering all he’s been through with this move, new to Oxford, St. John’s, etc. a car guy, spent time in an MGA, loves my MGB, IIA, introverted like me, and asked if I had any “advice” for him… “Just be yourself….”

Listen folks in St. John and Oxford – we miss the dad. Joe, but this change is God’s will for all, we have a “keeper” in Fr. Mark who suits us perfectly and who is going to be very good! If you’ve been away from St. John’s – come back…you’ll be so happy in prayer that you did…. Wow – so excited about this new era of St. John’s and Fr. To mark…. Peace to you all!

Steve is an Oxford resident, worked on campus and earned his PhD. in advice from Ole Miss, and can be contacted at [email protected]

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