'Let the children come to me be the focus of my life.' — Motto, Fenwick High School|
When friends and admirers who make up the Rev. Daniel Mirabelli's flock congregate today to celebrate his priesthood's Golden Jubilee, we wonder if there will be room enough for everyone who wishes to pay their respects to this "little priest" with a huge heart.
He has spent nearly two-thirds of his 79 years serving the Lord and 44 of it Alleman High School. Indeed, today may be HIS Golden Jubilee, but for this community his life and service here have been, as Gershwin might say, "one long jubilee."
In the days before today's celebration, admirers of all ages could be found to talk about what Rev. Mirabelli meant to them. His touch has reached across generations, from cradle to grave, in more than four decades of service to Alleman and its legions of students, many of whom make up the leaders of our community. Teacher, coach, counselor, business manager, ticket manager, booster advisor and director of development; all those titles fit the man who is synonymous with Allemanl. And still they understate his impact. Mark Johnson, CEO of the Champaign, Ill., County YMCA and a former Olympic wrestler, might have found the ultimate way to describe this man of God. "Father Mirabelli is Alleman," he said. "I love the man; he's my guy. But so does everyone who ever stepped foot in Alleman, met him through church or sent their children to Alleman. He might be the most loved man in the community."
For all that, Rev. Mirabelli eschews the limelight, preferring instead to quietly serve his community. Well, maybe not always quietly, as anyone who has watched Alleman's No. 1 booster stalk the sidelines or man the field of play for sporting events.
His path to train as a Viatorian almost certainly was guided by a higher power; the training's focus on service to children was a perfect fit. "There truly is something spiritual about being a Viatorian," he said. "I first saw that when I was a student at Fenwick High School. I knew I wanted to live by their motto:'Let the children come to me be the focus of my life.' It's important to remember that we are here to serve, not be served."
How fortunate Alleman and the community are that he wants to continue to serve. He has no plans to go elsewhere. Rev. Mirabelli says he has been blessed to serve the community. The Quad-Cities has been doubly blessed.
We hope God will be patient in waiting for the "most loved man" in our community to join him.
We're not ready for this long Jubilee to end.
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