Father Pick, founder of St. Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church, left a lively legacy.
Longboat Key lost one of its modern-day pioneers two weeks ago with the death of the Rev. Edward Pick, 86, founding pastor of St. Mary, Star of the Sea, Catholic Church.
For nearly 40 years, Pick was like the papal father of Longboat Key’s Catholic community. As the pastor and face of the parish, he often used humor and pastoral nudging from the pulpit to remind his flock of their good fortune and responsibility to those in need. And parishioners responded, making St. Mary a rock of the diocese.
To be sure, St. Mary has served as a place of friendship and fellowship for parishioners as they fulfilled their weekly obligation to attend Mass. And it was place where snowbirds would renew friendships at St. Mary’s Christmas bazaars, parish picnics and men’s club dinners.
But to a great extent, Pick kept them coming to the church. He had two gifts: his writing and his sermons.
He was a captivating storyteller. He was that rare clergyman who was able to relay the stories of Jesus, Mary and the legions of saints to our everyday lives in ways that held your attention.
And that was because of his writing — often clever turns of phrases, scene setting, detailed biblical anecdotes and funny punch lines.
And it was because of his delivery. He would stand at the lectern, slightly stooped at the shoulders, clacking his teeth intermittently, looking over the rims of his glasses, his type-written sermon unfolded before him, using pauses for impact. His pitched, raspy voice seemed odd for a man so tall. Indeed, it amused many attending Mass for the first time, but it made his storytelling all the more interesting. You could feel the passion of his faith.
And yet, there also was the enigmatic side to Pick. We saw it at the Longboat Observer in the mid- and late 1990s when we printed each week one of the Sunday sermons from the island’s clergy.
We informed the ministers we had word counts, followed certain grammatical and punctuation rules and, on occasion, might have to edit slightly or shorten their masterful prose. All were fine with this except Pick.
After we tidied up one of his masterpieces, he called the paper’s managing editor and berated her over the telephone with language you wouldn’t expect from a man of God.
He simply didn’t understand or wouldn’t accept what we know in this business: Everybody’s copy is subject to editing — even the pope’s.
It was a puzzling reaction from a man who was a master at preaching the lessons of the gospel, who was beloved by much of his flock and who ended every Mass with this special closing:
“The Mass is ended,” he would say, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord,” adding in a slow, admonishing cadence “… and be kind to one another.”
Ask any St. Mary parishioner — a year-round Longboater or a visiting Catholic snowbird — who remembers Pick at his prime. He or she will tell you that when the Rev. Edward Pick entered from the back of the church for the procession to begin the Mass, his entrance made parishioners look forward to the next hour — to hear what the master rabbi was to preach and teach that day to his attentive flock.
Pick was a transformative figure on Longboat Key, and for nearly four decades the star of St. Mary, Star of the Sea.