Father Scott Buchanan — a priest in his glory
And I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord, and my God is now my strength! Isaiah 49:5
By NANCY SCHWERIN
CHARLESTON — By all accounts, Father Scott Buchanan loved being a priest. He wore his collar proudly, his mother said. He loved the history of the church, said his brother. A friend said he loved sharing his faith. And his mentor said he worked hard at his life’s work and loved his Creator.
Father Buchanan, 31, died on Jan. 6. He was laid to rest at a Mass of Christian Burial on Wednesday, Jan. 10, at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Friends and family, in vast number, came to send their priest and brother home to the Lord. A vigil service on Tuesday and the Mass and burial on Wednesday were filled with great sadness, but also joy for a life well lived.
“As a theologian and historian, he knew that all history is patterned on the life of Christ, including his own,” said Father Jeffrey Kendall, who gave the homily at Mass.
In his vigil homily, Father Ed Fitzgerald said, “He put on Christ every day of his life. In the short time he was at (St. Mary’s) Summerton and (St. Ann’s) Holly Hill, he was working wonders making the faith come alive.”
“He loved people, loved talking with people, and loved being around people,” said his mother, Carol Buchanan.
It was perhaps, no coincidence, that Father Buchanan died on the Feast of the Epiphany and the last day of the Jubilee Year. Epiphany is the revealing of Jesus as the Christ to the gentiles through the Magi and the baptism of Jesus; or an appearance or manifestation of God. Now it is also a day that will forever be a reminder of a much-loved priest.
“[Father Scott] was a manifestation of God’s love in the world through the Sacrament of Holy Orders,” Father Fitzgerald said.
Father St. John Patat was the first priestly influence in Father Buchanan’s life. He asked him to be an altar boy. Scott was reluctant, but couldn’t say no. So he served on the altar and quickly came to love it. He looked forward to practice on Saturdays, said his mother, and while serving Mass, he would slowly swing the incense to keep wafts of smoke filling his senses.
He and Father Patat formed a close bond over the years, sharing a love of classical music, philosophy and theology.
“He was just like I was,” said Father Patat.
The mentor said that Father Buchanan was inspired by many priests, and that, and God, created the extraordinary priest that he eventually became.
Day to day, Father Buchanan’s grace, patience and endearing personality were steadfast. When he entered parish life as a priest, he gave himself completely.
“He did so much, more than I knew, but he never seemed to be in a rush,” Ms. Buchanan said.
“He made himself more available to [his parishioners],” she said, “He admired the people in remote areas who had to travel and make an effort to go to church. It was easy being Catholic here in Charleston,” (where a priest is never too far and a Mass is not hard to find she added).
At the burial Mass she told Father Buchanan’s brother priests: “Many times over the past two days I’ve been told that the mother of a priest is the mother of all priests. So I say to all my new sons … be proud you’re a priest. Scott was.”
“I never remember him wanting to be anything else, but a priest,” she added later.
In his homily Father Kendall expressed the hope that “his passing will bring a greater spirit of fraternity among his brother priests.”
Perhaps the devout life of Father Scott Buchanan will be a light for others. Wise beyond his years, Father Scott “was a sense of peacefulness which only God can provide,” said Father Fitzgerald.
And as the Bible states, life does not end in death.
Bishop Robert J. Baker, presider at the burial Mass, told Father Scott’s family and friends that they could now ask for Scott’s intercession. They could pray to the dearly departed for his help in overcoming life’s hurdles, perhaps hurdles that Father Scott overcame with great triumph.
We may look to him for guidance, said his mother, in discerning an occupation or a vocation, especially women who think they have a vocation.
“He had a great respect for women,” she said. “He really admired them (women religious).”
We may also look to Father Scott to pray that people take their faith more seriously, said Father Fitzgerald, in the sense that our faith lives are filled with compassion and hope.
“I wanted them to do something that made them happy,” Buchanan said of her two sons.
In life, surely he was happy, for peace surrounded him and from his soft-spoken lips came the goodness of the Lord. In death, surely he heard these words, which Father Fitzgerald used from the Rite of Ordination of a Deacon: “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.”