As his retirement approaches, Father Rudy Oborny is preparing for the move to Bonacum House in Lincoln. He’ll join his friend, Monsignor Paul Witt, who was born two days after Oborny at the former St. Mary’s Hospital in Columbus. The two became close friends over the years, and so did their mothers.
His calling came as a small boy. Priests were always welcome in his home, and Oborny had two uncles who were priests to learn from. As a boy, he learned how to conduct an emergency baptism, and his puppy, the only one of four to survive, became his first subject.
His uncle, Father Charles Oborny left an impression on his young nephew.
“Just watching him interact with kids and adults, and when they left his presence, they were cheerful,” Oborny said. “That is the moment I wanted to be a priest just like him.”
He has enjoyed the priesthood since being ordained May 29, 1971.
Oborny’s communication skills were polished by following the lead of other priests, and he’s an admitted romantic.
“If I had to do it all over, I’d be a priest again, where God wanted me to be,” he said.
An older priest once asked a group of younger priests Oborny was part of, how many had volunteered to bring Jesus to the poor. The younger priests raised their hands, but the older priest told them Jesus is already with everyone, and it was their job to help people find him.
“That was a life-changer for me,” he said. “If I see someone doing something nice, that’s the Lord shining through, the source of all good.”
He loves to see couples in love, and grow together through marriage encounters, and reunite under Retrouvaille, which he said has a 70 percent success rate.
“There’s so much hurt. It’s like peeling the layers of an onion to get down to that pain. We can heal it,” he said.
He recalled one couple in an arranged marriage. The husband had no concept of how to express appreciation to his wife.
“He couldn’t think of one thing he cherished about her. I asked him questions about cooking, cleaning and the kids. He said yes to all,” Oborny said.
As Oborny spoke with the husband, he saw the “light bulb” go off.
“I saw them over the next year, and they looked so in love,” he smiled.
Sometimes, what brings a couple together is minimized under a bed of criticism toward each other, he said.
Oborny shines when he marries couples, performs baptisms or simply watches children anxiously wait by the pews to put their coins in the basket.
“It’s a joy beyond my wildest imagination. It fills my bucket,” he said.
Oborny will miss the people in Hebron, the “plum of the Lincoln Diocese.” A Hebron assignment means no mission trips or driving on Sunday. There are no debts, such as the school debts he battled in other places.
Father Steven Major, who has been in Crete for approximately seven years, is happy to be coming to Hebron, Oborny said.
He also addressed today’s times.
Oborny said the more people drift away from God, the more they lose their moral compass.
“A lot of people are drifting away from the church. It happened in the Old Testament, over and over. The bottom line is Satan is a creature, God is the creator. Return to prayer as a family. Go to church as a family,” he said.