Tower Topics Fall-Winter 2010

Conception Seminary College
December 14, 2010

Fr. Isaac True: 50 Years Professed

One of the difficulties in trying to give a brief portrait of someone celebrating 50 years of religious life is that highlighting some of the more noticeable traits means inevitably passing over many no less significant qualities known to those who have shared his life. Anyone who has known Fr. Isaac True can testify that beneath the learned, hard-working, and independent surface, lies a soul Godfearing, caring, and humble in the estimation of his own wisdom. There is little need to dwell on Fr. Isaac's learnedness. Though he did not like school when he was younger, Fr. Isaac has shown an enthusiasm, or at least a determination, to learn what it takes to tackle the practical demands his assignments presented—whether as President-Rector, Business Manager, teacher of philosophy, and, more recently, as pastor of a parish. Fr. Isaac's perceptive and open mind usually enables him to arrive at a well-considered solution to the issue at hand. But as we know, Fr. Isaac never uses the successes he may have experienced as an excuse to stop re-thinking, re-working, re-learning. Always a teacher, he's never stopped being a student.

Fr. Isaac's industriousness is accompanied by humility, a chief characteristic mentioned by St. Benedict of the monk who truly seeks God. As President-Rector from 1973-88, and during somewhat challenging times, Fr. Isaac diligently and patiently sowed the seeds of the seminary's later fuller flourishing. To paraphrase St. Paul, Fr. Isaac watered and planted, but God gave the increase. Fr. Isaac's industriousness, in other words, has been accompanied by an evident and strong faith in God. If there's one theme that consistently stands out in Fr. Isaac's homilies to the community, it is this: Do not allow our own wills to get in the way of God's grace in our life. Surely it is this theme of personal conversion that is responsible for the "sacred enthusiasm" that can sometimes burst forth from Fr. Isaac's more ordinary Stoic demeanor—often coming as a surprise to unsuspecting observers.

Underneath Fr. Isaac's independent exterior there is also a generous, caring, and even affectionate quality that is shown to those who approach him in trust. On many occasions Fr. Isaac has offered a quiet but wise word of support to a confrere experiencing a difficulty. If the situation calls for a candidly direct response, Fr. Isaac is quite capable of that too. Those of us who have worked with Fr. Isaac in the administration of the abbey or seminary know of the neatness and thoroughness that he applies to his work. We also know of his willingness to help with tasks that ay require his expertise. For example, Fr. Isaac was asked to write the most recent self-study report for the seminary's successful accreditation—an important and demanding work that he was already familiar with.

Fr. Isaac's strong sense of purpose to better the lives of others has been shown not only in the seminary as a teacher and administrator, but also in the pastoral responsibilities more recently assigned to him. After fifteen years as rector, Fr. Isaac spent a sabbatical of a year and two summers in Guatemala, knowing he would be exposed to poverty, violence, political unrest, and an unfamiliar language. The first three he could do very little about, but then he not only taught himself Spanish, he also learned Cachiquel, the Mayan dialect of the native region. We are thankful to God that Fr. Isaac has enjoyed good health over the years, enabling him to presently serve the Catholic parish in Bethany, Missouri, sharing his wisdom and his faith as he has done for us these past 50 years.


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