A seminarian friend, Enrique Salvo, sends a reminiscence of Fr. Neuhaus:
One sunny September morning during my first semester at St. Joseph’s seminary in 2006, I was assigned to preach about vocations at all the Sunday Masses celebrated at the Church of the Immaculate Conception. It was right before one of these Masses that I had the honor of meeting Fr. Richard Neuhaus, who was to be the celebrant. It was great to talk to him with his kind and humorous conversations as we waited for Mass to begin. I remember he even attempted to remove a tiny stain from my surplice. It was all great until, in all humility, I admit to a very embarrassing blunder on my behalf.
“Do you know the seminarian, Vince Druding?” Fr. Neuhaus asked as we talked about life at the seminary. “He used to work in my magazine.”
“Oh yes, your magazine,” I said with all the certitude in the world, “SMALL THINGS!”
“No, no,” he corrected me with a shocked smile, “It’s called FIRST THINGS; it’s actually about the greatest things.” And before I even got a chance to react, the entrance processional music began.
As we began processing down that aisle, I began to think, “Oh no, what did I just do? I just called his magazine: ‘Small Things.’” I was so embarrassed. See, what happened is that I was reading St. Therese’s Story of a Soul, so I kept on thinking about her teaching of “doing small things with great love.” So, yes, I ended up calling Fr. Neuhaus’ great magazine “Small Things,” to him, to his face.
After the Mass I felt I had to go apologize and explain, even though the “awkward factor” was on extreme high. I had just met him, and truthfully, I hadn’t even pinpointed why I had blurted that out. What could I possibly say? But there was no need. He was still so kind to me, we even hugged goodbye, that I did not feel he was in any way resentful about my silly blunder. Actually, I later heard that this caused him many laughs as he told others his side of this story.
I expected one day to explain to him what had happened, but every time I would see him, he always had something so interesting or funny to say about something else, that I never came around to it. So I know what I will do. I will ask St. Therese to go explain it to him now. They will probably laugh about it together.