Emmett Moore Waits, 1923 – 2014
Father Waits, as he was known to the college students who frequented the Canterbury House in Denton, TX, is my personal saint. He was kind and gentle by nature, committed to his faith and the Episcopal church, and devoted to his family by birth and his student family, as well. He was also blessed with a delightful sense of humor, sharp insights into human nature, and unflappable patience. (All served him well as a college chaplain!)
I met him at the Episcopal student center that served both the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University where I was a first-year student. He lived at the House near the UNT campus along with four or five male UNT student boarders and held a daily Eucharist in its chapel for about 15 years. Every Sunday that school was in session, he’d drive across town in his battered station wagon to pick up anyone at TWU who wanted to come to the House for the Eucharist, company, and supper. Never married, he lavished attention and care on every one of us. The Sunday suppers and Saints’ Day and holiday parties at the House were legendary. His classes and retreats were formative for many of us who sought and treasured his guidance and advice as we traveled the way of faith.
Of the group of 25 regulars my four years in Denton, three became ordained priests, one became a religious (nun), two became church musicians/organists, and several more, including me, were called to active service as laypeople. We corresponded for many years after I graduated as he went on to serve as a parish priest in Denton and Dallas. I last saw him at the 50th anniversary of his ordination celebration. The largest contingent of guests were his former Canterbury House students, a dramatic and wonderful testimony to his loving presence and inspiration that we all continued to feel despite the time and distance that had separated us for many years. My relationship with Father Waits is an inspiration and a comfort to this day. He was truly a man of God.
The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog