Michael Francaviglia was hired as Director of Administration & Secretary of Convention with the Episcopal Diocese of Newark by Bishop John Shelby Spong, starting on September 1, 1990. After more than 22 years of service to the diocese under Bishops Spong, John Palmer Croneberger and Mark M. Beckwith, he announced his planned retirement on April 5, 2013.
To mark the occasion of Michael's 23rd and final Convention, many attendees, including retired Bishop Spong, wore bow ties -- Michael's trademark -- to the Friday evening dinner in his honor (see photos), and the dinner concluded with the presentation of a poem and a video in tribute to him.
The poem, by Kay Lark (who is renowned in Episcopal House for her humorous poems celebrating special occasions) is a reimagining of The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere as The Twenty-Two Year Ride of Michael F. (See below.)
The video, by Nina Nicholson and Diana Wilcox, is humorous and poignant photo gallery of Michael through the years, set to the Star Wars theme.
The Twenty-Two Year Ride of Michael F.
By Kay Lark
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the 22-year ride of Michael F., our dear.
In the fall ’90 and NOT ‘75
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers when Michael F. arrived.
Happy in the halls of NBC
A producer of election coverage was he.
But this self-proclaimed “recovering Catholic”
Heard the siren call from the City of Brick
And rode through the night in hopes of being picked.
The bishop in charge was one John Shelby Spong
Whose wit was quick and whose shadow was long!
He said to his bride, after looking about
With accustomed clarity and no sign of doubt
“The kid with the bow tie just MIGHT work out!”
The Spongs had their day then turned over the helm
To another Bishop Jack and Croneberger led the realm
Then, back from the Land of Red Sox and Patriots
Came Bishop Mark Beckwith, full of grace AND guts
With a deep dream of peace, no ifs, ands or buts.
After five years of noting the sartorial splendor
Invariably exuded by his Diocesan Administrator,
Mark screwed up his courage and quietly said,
“Please take this bow-tie of blue, not red,
And teach me to tie it -- my daughter is to be wed.”
As all good things must come to an end
Michael looked at his watch and decided to send
A fateful email to the Bishop and his crew
“The time has come and I must say adieu
To the best band of colleagues ANY one ever knew.”
After years of finding chinks in clerical armor
Our Michael has dreams of becoming a farmer.
So off to PA he and Bill will repair
Where what to his wondering eyes will appear
But a miniature farm and eight tiny… alpaca.
But that’s another poem and my sight grows dim –
Michael’s leaving this spring and the debt owed to him
Is so great that we’ll never, ever, ever repay
So we’ll have to be content to say,
“Farewell, beloved Michael, please don’t stay away!”