UPDATE 27 Dec 2020:
Telegram from Francis to the Superior of the Carmelites:
Originally Published on: Dec 25, 2020 at 11:10
I had a note this morning that my old friend and Latin mentor, Carmelite Fr. Reginald Foster died on Christmas. He was a Carmelite of Holy Hill, WI.
I owe Reggie a terrific debt for the gift of his knowledge of the Latin language that he passed on and good years of friendship. He was a rara avis if ever there was one, simultaneously jovial and irascible. He was one of the smartest, keenest minds I’ve ever known.
He said a lot of things that shocked people and wasn’t in the least the picture of the cleric. I think that a lot of the time, he said things to shock because he was a little bored. He had 1000MHz more brain speed than any one in the room, and a virtually photographic memory. If he got on your case about something, holy angels help you. However, he was astonishingly kind. When I was studying with him in Rome during one of the really intense summer courses for advanced students I had a tumble and badly injured my ankle. Foster came to visit me every single day… bringing homework sheets – the legendary LUDI DOMESTICI.
Fr. Foster could veer from curmudgeon to Samaritan in an instant, and he could be both at the same time. Many were the times I spotted him in Rome sitting on a curb with a homeless guy or giving him his sandwich out of his briefcase. Affable and gruff. Chipper and brusque. And I found that, once you got past the first layer of the encounter and he relaxed a bit, the man truly was a priest down to his nails. He suffered at the hands of his order and ecclesiastics and he was not happy at all about certain clerical doings.
Foster was, of course, for years in Rome writing Latin for the Holy See and also teaching. Thousands of priests passed through his “experiences” and, today, when we read important documents of pontiffs past, we are often reading Reggie’s Latin.
In his last years he had physical ailments, which were not entirely not his fault.
I will pray for my old friend, whom I’ve known since the early ’80s, and I commend him to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.