MARX: Six decades of serving, Father Mirabelli is one of a kind
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MARX: Six decades of serving, Father Mirabelli is one of a kind

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Out of love and respect, his voice stops you flat in your tracks.

"Son, Father needs you,'' will send you scurrying to respond, to whatever he needs, because at some point in the past five-plus decades, he — without hesitation or question — responded to you.

Thursday, May 28, marks the 60th anniversary of the Rev. Daniel Mirabelli's ordination into the priesthood. Because of the coronavirus, friends have posted a video tribute with pictures from the past 60 years on the Kudo Board (https://www.kudoboard.com/boards/4joxnTlo. Anyone interested in sharing a message can add to the board.

Count me among the thousands lucky, honored and blessed to know Father Mirabelli. I first knew him as a student, then over the past two-plus decades as a coach, and even luckier as a parent of a current Alleman student.

They come no finer than Father Mirabelli.

Known as the Little Ol' Priest to those on the inside, Mirabelli is universally loved, admired respected far beyond the Alleman community. The first words from any rival administrator or coach when the Alleman bus pulls in to that respective school, is "Where's Father?''

A tough-as-nails Chicagoan with a kind heart and giving spirit, Father Mirabelli is the one person you wanted to take for class, the man you still seek for advice and guidance, the person you trusted to marry you, baptize your child and preside over mass as you bid farewell to a loved one. He is a man of God, a man of principal and a man filled with grace. 

I once had to look up the meaning of "totalitarianism,'' because Father Mirabelli was teaching it. No one ever made history and government as fun and interesting and he did. All I knew was if Father was teaching it, I was taking it. Him saying mass for the Alleman football team every Friday in the fall is something I looked forward to and lucky enough to share with longtime friends and, even better, my son.

In his 54 dedicated and giving years at Alleman, Father Mirabelli has served the school as a teacher, booster club moderator, bookstore manager, ticket manager and director of development, but more importantly as the spiritual advisor to the thousands of young people and their families he has served through his six decades.

Father Mirabelli has raised millions to better — and keep the lights on and the halls filled — at Alleman. The office light burning late at night inside the the school on the hill, is not for decoration, it is Father, in his office, doing his best to make sure anyone who wants it, may have a faith-based education. He is so respected, you cannot say no when he asks.

Few on this earth are blessed with the unique gifts of heart, the ability to listen and sympathetic grace. Father Mirabelli possesses all three. He means it when he tells students and parents — the many he taught or guided through the years — they are special.

Father Mirabelli knows special.

Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309-757-8388 or jmarx@qconline.com.

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