Although I’m 60 years old, I still consider myself an Air Force “brat” — that is, the son of an Air Force officer.

Part of Air Force life is moving frequently, and my family moved more than most. When we moved to Montgomery in 1976, our new house was the 14th house in which I had lived in 18 years. I was certain of only two things — my family would never stay in Alabama, and I would never live there, except for summers and Christmastime while still in college. 

Fast foward 43 years and my family still lives in Alabama. I’ve been here for 32 years myself.

One of the reasons my family is still here is because my two brothers and sister went to what I thought at the time was a somewhat obscure university — Auburn. All their children have followed them here; the youngest will be an Auburn University sophomore in the fall.

It is ironic that I am the only member of my family who did not attend Auburn University, and yet the family member who has lived in Auburn two or three times longer than everyone else. Almost one quarter of my life has been spent in The Loveliest Village on The Plains.

Ironic, yes, but what a blessing these 14 years have been for me! I will be leaving Auburn at the end of June for a new assignment in Mobile — a “PCS” as they used to call it in the military, or “permanent change of station.” No change in my life will be tougher than this one.

This Nebraska graduate has become an Auburn fan. I have seen far more Auburn football games in person now than Nebraska games. Those games are filled with great memories, like going on the field after the 2017 Iron Bowl. Rolling Toomer’s Corner after football, basketball or any other significant victories is now far and away my favorite postgame tradition.

The best memories of all are of the Auburn students I have met over the years. I have much hope for the future because of them.

First and foremost, though, I have become a St. Michael Parish “fan.” Wonderful things have happened at St. Michael’s over the past 14 years — new locations for both the church and Auburn Catholic campus ministry, more community and activity within the parish and more outreach and support of the community at large.

The recent opening of the Frassati Chapel will be the last of my construction projects here, and a wonderful way to end — a new church 10 years ago and a new chapel this year. I was a catalyst for many things, but the credit for most of what has happened belongs to others, especially those who continue to support and be part of a wonderful church founded in Christ.

St Michael’s and its people, along with many others here in Auburn, have made me a better priest and a better Catholic Christian. I will miss you! May God bless you! WAR EAGLE!

A Catholic priest since 1987, Father Bill Skoneki has been the pastor of St. Michael Catholic Parish since 2005. Prior to Auburn, he ministered in Montgomery, Mobile, Fairhope and Daphne. The son of an Air Force officer, his family is based in Montgomery.

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