It’s 11:00 p.m., and you’d expect an 83-year-old retired priest to be tucked up in bed – unless that priest is Father Ed Nadolny.
Father Ed is probably having a lively phone conversation with a complete stranger, one of the countless souls who call him after seeing his “I LOVE YOU JESUS” billboards scattered along the Connecticut highways like beacons of hope. Along with this outspoken message of faith, Father lists his own personal cell phone number.
He takes calls any hour of the day or night. To those who call to complain about the overt message of faith, he feigns deafness. “What did the billboard say?” he asks. When the caller grumbles, “It said, ‘I love you, Jesus.’” Father Ed’s deafness suddenly disappears. “Well, that’s great!” he cries. “I love Jesus, too!”
Father Ed is a firecracker, at once one of the kindest, gentlest, and most fearless people I have ever encountered. Our paths crossed during our Connecticut school tour of Thérèse, which he organized, sponsored, and funded entirely himself. Young people need the example of the saints more than ever, he believes, so he brought St. Thérèse’s Little Way to as many of them as possible.
Not one to mince words, Father Ed gave me advice on my love life within five minutes of meeting me. (He turned out to be right.) At the same time, he offered such support and inspiration – most of all through his own example of self-sacrifice. We still keep in touch, although it’s hard to get a hold of him. The last time we talked, he kept the conversation short. “I have to go,” he said. “I’ve got to get back to work. I’m raising money to buy keyboards for poor children in South America.”