My mother had known of Father Walsh, of course, since I’m a Pedro Pan child. I probably ran into him over and over for two years before I met him. I attended St. Peter & St. Paul Schools, and I lived across the street from there, so I constantly hung around the place-not to mention the many Saturday detentions I spent helping the nuns clean the convent and the church. Perhaps to me he was just another Irish priest who spoke English with a funny accent. In the summer of 1964, it seemed like the whole eighth grade graduating class was registering to attend Immaculata-LaSalle School in the fall. Financially, I didn’t have a chance. My mother, a Cuban refugee, worked in a sewing factory, just to pay for the two-room efficiency where we lived. My father had arrived in April of that year, very sick, straight form a hospital in Madrid. I had just about given hope of going to ILS, but my mother said she would ask Father Walsh for help. She had never met him face to face, and she took me with her to translate the meeting, only to find out that Father Walsh spoke fluent Spanish. He spoke like a Cuban with an Irish accent. I don’t know what was said, because I was a little kid, not paying attention to the adults’ discussion, but I was thrilled to learn that I would be attending school with my friends. I went to ILS for the next four years, thanks to the generosity of Father Walsh. But our story doesn’t end there. A year later, in October of 1965, my father passed away. Once more, my mother walked across the street with a heavy heart, para hablar con el padre-to speak to the priest. We didn’t have any money to pay for the burial grounds. Father Walsh donated a burial plot at Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery in Miami, and my father was buried there. In my book, Black Beans and Rice-Growing Up Cuban, I have acknowledged the big role that Monsignor Bryan Walsh played in my life. “Special thanks to Monsignor Bryan Walsh who not only helped me get to this country through Operation Pedro Pan, but he also paid for my Catholic education in Miami, Florida. how could I ever thank him enough? I hope God has a special place saved for that man.” He’s the only man who, though he remained celibate all his life, is “father” to over 14,000 children. I hope he’s looking down at us, with his crinkly, smiling eyes, and I hope he’s proud of us. No, there’s no pride in heaven, but there’s pride down here, and we’re all Oh so proud of him. Our Monsignor Walsh, may he rest in glory.