By Larry Urish     3/28/2017

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Choose a job that you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

Wise advice, indeed. Too bad it’s mostly nonsense.

Case in point: The men and women who devote their lives to the teachings of the Church and Jesus. Despite their dedication, they work very hard. A “labor of love” can still involve just that: labor.

So it helps to enjoy outside interests. We asked four local clergy about theirs. Here is what they said:


Classic Resurrection

For Rev. Msgr. Douglas Cook, the parental apple/tree analogy isn’t entirely accurate. In his case, the piston doesn’t fall far from the crankshaft.

His longtime passion for fixing up classic old cars comes from his father.

“My dad worked on cars all the time,” says Msgr. Cook, rector of Holy Family Cathedral. “He was a very patient teacher and a talented mechanic.”

These days, Msgr. Cook, who was actually named after drag racer Doug “Cookie” Cook, is working on his ’54 Buick Super Hardtop Riviera, a two-door gem that he picked up in Texas six years ago. Along with a complete rebuild, “I’m stripping it down for painting,” he says. “I’m going to keep the original color: blue on blue.”

Another project, his ’24 Buick Roadster, “was practically just a pile of parts that I found in Santa Ana.”

Msgr. Cook’s manner of acquiring some of the rare parts used to fix his old cars dovetails nicely with his hobby. “I go on road trips,” he says. “I’ve driven all the way to Montana for a part. It’s a little nutty, unless you enjoy the drive – and I really do.”


One swell hobby

“Jesus Christ used water as a symbol for new life and, of course, he walked on water,” Fr. Christian Mondor says. “We, on the other hand, need a board to do that.”

The vicar emeritus of Sts. Simon and Jude Church has surfed for the last 22 years, ever since he first learned as a young 70-year-old whippersnapper.

“I grew up near the Santa Monica pier, and we used to bodysurf a lot,” he says.

The 92-year-old – who still bodysurfs – learned to ride a longboard at Bolsa Chica State Beach with the help of a few retired LAPD officers. “I’d start at 6:30 and surf for an hour or so, then paddle in, dry off and go to work.”

Earlier this year, Fr. Mondor used a boogie board while competing in a senior surfing tournament. “I paddled around, caught a shore break, and that was it.” The nonagenarian earned second place in the event’s 75-and-older category.

He is perhaps best known in the surfing community for his involvement in the annual Interfaith Blessing of the Waves, an event he helps organize.

“It’s for more than surfers,” he says. “We ask God to bless the ocean and all those who enjoy it: surfers, sailors, swimmers. … The ocean is such a wonderful thing that we have on our doorstep.”


Reelin’ in the years

You may have heard about the blessed fisherman who enjoyed his work so much, he went fishing on his free time.

Fr. Bill Krekelberg, the Diocese’s archivist emeritus, loves his role so much, he collects OC memorabilia, a hobby since his high school days.

“My family moved to Orange County when I was eleven years old,” he says. “We lived very close to Knott’s Berry Farm. I used to hang out there a lot; it was a nice place for anyone interested in history to come and play.”

Fr. Krekelberg’s passion is focused on local history. “I’ve always been interested in the county’s [past], especially after I became the archivist for the Diocese.”

In addition to an impressive collection of books – about the county as a whole, specific cities and prominent residents through the decades – Fr. Krekelberg has collected, among many other artifacts, a section of the rail from the old Santa Ana Trolley, colorful citrus labels from the old OC packing houses, vintage engravings from county sites and an assortment of postcards from the turn of the last century to the ’30s and ’40s.

Now, Fr. Krekelberg’s own past has come full circle.

“[On March 31,] Knott’s will be auctioning off a variety of things that they’ve had in storage for years,” he says. “If I can fit it into my schedule, I’d sure like to attend.”


Happy trails

Fr. Steve Sallot fell for off-road motorcycling – at least figuratively – when he was first placed on an old Norton 650. He’s been delightedly kicking up dust ever since.

“I got my first motorcycle when I was about ten,” says Fr. Sallot, the Diocese’s vicar general. “My dad paid 30 bucks for it, all in pieces. He said, ‘Here – if you want a motorcycle, see how much you can put together.’”

Today, Fr. Sallot rides a Honda XR650 and a KTM 950. “They’re big, and they’re really fast.”

In addition to local rides, he and a few friends enjoy annual off-road trips. “We go about a thousand miles, riding about 150 to 200 miles a day, and stay in cheap hotels out in the boonies.”

Despite the broken elbows, collarbone and ankle, along with countless lacerations and contusions, “I ride because I like the speed and the thrill of going fast over terrain. It makes me concentrate on what I’m doing and forget everything else. It’s mental therapy. … It also gets me out into nature. I really love that.”