A special weekend

Published 6:41 pm Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What a wonderful weekend.

That was my feeling on Sunday as I left Holy Family Catholic Church in Blakely, Ga.

I had just witnessed a special event honoring two dedicated holy men who have meant so much to me.

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Father Victor Siedel, who was my pastor at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Cairo, Ga., and Father Joel Bladt, who was formerly my pastor at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church here in Bainbridge, celebrated their jubilee Mass, honoring their 50th anniversary in the priesthood.

They were both there to give me great comfort and spiritual guidance when my dear late mother passed away in 1999.

Father Victor always had a smile and kind word for my mother, who was a member of Cairo First United Methodist Church, when she attended Mass with me at St. Elisabeth Ann Seton. Father Victor was there to comfort my family and I at my mother’s funeral, which was held at Cairo First United Methodist Church.

Father Joel came to visit my mother and prayed with my brother Tom and I when she was a patient at Memorial Hospital in Bainbridge.

Having an opportunity to attend Father Victor’s and Father Joel’s jubilee Mass and following reception Sunday in Blakely and let them know how they positively influenced my spiritual life was special.

The special weekend began Friday night with a basketball game at the Decatur County Memorial Coliseum kicking off the fourth annual James Butler Dream Weekend.

Each year James, a former All-Region 1AAAA defensive back with the Bainbridge High School Bearcats and All-Atlantic Coast Conference defensive back with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, who is now with the St. Louis Rams, comes home to put on a Saturday football camp for local youngsters.

James was a member of the 2007 Super Bowl XLII champion New York Giants, who defeated the previously undefeated New England Patriots 17-14 in Glendale, Ariz.

The weekend began with a basketball game played Friday night at the Decatur County Memorial Coliseum where James provided many thrills for Bearcats basketball fans during his Bainbridge High School years.

Butler’s Pro All-Stars squad edged the Bainbridge All-Stars 95-94 and he thrilled the crowd with several of his original slam dunks.

James is a fine Christian young man, and through his Dream Foundation, he helps youngsters and their families in many ways.

His parents the Rev. James Butler Sr. and Nadine Butler, are two of the finest people I have ever known.

A major part of the message James and other former Bearcat players like Darryl Gamble and Nick Williams, who played at the University of Georgia, and Malcolm Sheppard and Ray Dominguez, who played at the University of Arkansas, brought to campers Saturday morning at Centennial Field, was faith and character- based.