By Tonya Fennell: CNJ staff writer
At the age of 9, the Rev. Gary C. Caster spent an entire summer expecting Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, to appear before him.
The Blessed Virgin didn’t materialize, but Caster’s love and fascination for her never diminished.
“It was a long summer,” Caster said. “She never came.”
Although Mary never appeared to him physically, Caster said he developed a deep, personal relationship with her. Following the death of his sister, who died from cancer, Caster decided to write a book devoted to Mary.
The 134-page book, entitled “Mary In Her Own Words,” is interspersed with Biblical scripture and references to numerous religious publications and is divided into 28 easy-to-read chapters.
Caster refers to the book as an “original reflection and not a study.”
“It is my own words,” he said.
Caster, a priest in the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, Ill., since 1992, was previously chaplain at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the former bishop of Peoria, Ill.
Caster now serves as assistant at St. Patrick’s Parish in Washington, Ill., and St. Luke’s in Eureka, Ill.
Not only is Caster an author and priest, he is also a language scholar, speaking English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Euskadi, which is a Basque language.
According to former Clovis resident Pat Skarda, who has been friends with Caster for two years, the Catholic priest is anything but typical. Skarda, an English professor and chair of the Vocation Committee of the U.S. Conference of Secular Institutes, described Caster as a dynamic speaker who rarely stands still while celebrating Mass.
“He paces and sometimes hurls himself around,” Skarda said.
The Catholic priest plans to visit Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Clovis on Sunday where he will meet parishioners and sign copies of his book.
What: Meet the author the Rev. Gary Caster
When: Sunday, after 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. Masses and during the noon Christmas party.
Where: Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Ninth and Merriwether streets, Clovis.