By SUZANNE HOLTKAMP, Special To The Bulletin | Published February 16, 2012
The newly renovated Chancery reception room was the site of this year’s sixth annual Fabulous Fathers Priest Talent Show—and on the night of Feb. 4, the impressive array of talent from the priestly performers was nothing short of dazzling. Over 300 guests were welcomed for an evening of entertainment, dinner and silent auctions to benefit Regina Caeli Academy, a classical hybrid school.
Dozens of teachers and parents have spent the better part of the past six months planning for the special night and were eager for the night to begin and enjoy the fruits of their labors.
“It’s always a magical evening, and we look forward to both a serious night of financial support for the school as well as just plain fun,” said Kari Beckman, director of programs for Regina Caeli. The school relies upon the show each year to fund necessary expenses in the budget.
The evening started out with a very loud bang as Father Augustine Tran, a teacher at Blessed Trinity High School, Roswell, displayed his Tae Kwon Do skills against some very poorly matched planks of solid wood. Then the mood shifted quickly as Father Joseph Peek, of All Saints Church, Dunwoody, took the stage for a dramatic rendition of a General George S. Patton speech, which brought a standing ovation from the appreciative audience.
Father Neil Dhabliwala, pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Church, Dahlonega, showed he had spent some serious hours in his former college band as he played the guitar and sang sweeter than a Catholic Paul Simon.
Emcee Lino Rulli, who hosts a daily radio show called “The Catholic Guy” on Sirius XM satellite radio, kept the crowd laughing in between multiple set changes and introducing the bio for the next performer.
Even the audience got into the act as a few friendly hecklers could be heard giving Rulli an opportunity to display his fast Catholic wit. Three of the night’s performing priests allowed themselves to be “auctioned off” with the high bidder enjoying a dining experience with the priest of their choice.
There was also plenty of clerical comedy as Father Tom Hennessey, chaplain at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home, Atlanta, brought out his true identity with a side-splitting southern portrayal of a barefoot priest. Not to be outdone, Father Henry Atem, of St. Patrick Church, Norcross, delivered a comedy act peppered with stories of being mistaken for the archbishop and the ribbing he gives his parishioners when they read the parish bulletin during Mass.
Father Jack Durkin, pastor of St. Monica Church, Duluth, led a prayerful rendition of the song, “How Great Thou Art,” after which Father Kevin Peek, of the Georgia Tech Catholic Center, Atlanta, gave a heartfelt reading of poetry from T.S. Eliot and other spiritual writers.
The evening’s entertainment was wrapped up with Father Diosmar Natad, of the University Catholic Center serving Emory University and Agnes Scott College, as he lived up to his “American Idol Priest” title and had the crowd on their feet, dancing and singing along.
At the end of the evening guests Tom and Sharon Wetzel could be heard discussing who was the most impressive of the “Men in Black.”
Was it the singing, the laughter, or perhaps the tears amid the silent prayerful moments? No, they said, it was all three. “Because that’s what life is: prayer, trial and joy that brings us all just a little closer to each other and to God.”
Preparations for next year’s Fabulous Fathers Show are already underway. Regina Vivanco, dean of the Norcross campus, said, “We always take a moment to express our thanks to God for the show’s success … and then we start making lists for next year!”
If the past is any indication, the “Men in Black” are sure to give yet another inspired, blessed, and beautiful performance in 2013. The parents and staff of Regina Caeli Academy are thankful for all the wonderful priests who participated in the show as well as the generous parishioners who attended the performance.