I was with Monsignor Bryan O. Walsh from February 9, 1961 through the first week in December of 1963. During that time and in later years I was blessed to have Monsignor as my father. Yes, he was the only father I ever knew and he was also my best friend.
The first week of my stay at Casa Carrion he asked me about a discrepancy with one of my last names. I explained the situation and he immediately understood. A couple of days later when I asked him not to send me out of Miami because I would run away, he smiled.
Once I pulled a sneaky on Mr. Carrion. I told him that I was going to spend the weekend with my grandmother, but I was really spending it with a friend from N.C. On Sunday night I came back not knowing one of my uncles had called to see how I was doing and had told Mr. Carrion that my grandmother was in Cuba. Mr. Carrion was not very happy with me. When I came back he told me FATHER wanted to see me. That was the first and last time I got a PALETAZO. I was 18 and that was a first for me, but everything he did was with respect and love.
To me he was the wisest and kindest man I had ever known. I always felt at ease to come to him with any problems or questions. He always had an open door for all of us.
One night, when I was living at St. Raphael’s, we were talking and he looked worried. When I asked, he told me two boys had gone into some mail boxes and gotten in big trouble. They were going to release them to his custody and they were coming to St. Raphael’s. He said to me, “Eddie, they can not get in trouble again.”
He used to check every room every night to make sure everybody was there and safe.
On Christmas Eve of ‘61 there were just a few guys going to the dining room since all the others had gone to be with relatives. He looked at me and said, “This is the first time I have seen you sad.” Boy, did he know me! Yes, I was very sad, missing my family.
At graduation night from Curley we took a picture together, the only picture I have of the two of us. After graduation I went to work for the Catholic Welfare Bureau as a messenger. I was at the main office every day and if I knew Father was there, even though Lloydine, his secretary, would say that he was very busy, I would walk in to his office and say hello. He was never too busy to see me.
Later on, puzzled by his plane, his Mercedes and his riches, I asked him why he had chosen to be a priest. He said, “To serve God.” I learned a lot about him with that answer.
On the tenth anniversary of Operation Pedro Pan, Monsignor wrote an article for the Voice about my wife and me and our three children, highlighting the accomplishments of his Pedro Pan children.
Everything that there was to learn about love, honesty, integrity, loyalty and friendship, I learned from Monsignor. I hope someday the world will give him credit for the magnitude of the project and the great job that he did.
As all Pedro Pans, I will always be grateful to him, and I will love him forever.