Thursday, November 08, 2007

From the Late-Night Desk

As if Brighton chancery didn't have enough to deal with already, a Boston priest has been charged with stalking one of the city's most beloved products: the late-night host Conan O'Brien.
Rev. David Ajemian has been placed on leave after he was arrested last Friday, the Archdiocese of Boston announced Wednesday.

Ajemian, 46, remains in the custody of New York City police after he allegedly sent multiple communications to O'Brien over 14 months, police said. They said Ajemian was told to stop with the communications but did not, and a warrant for his arrest was issued by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

CBS station WBZ reports that Ajemian is accused of sending O'Brien threatening notes on parish letterhead and contacting his parents.

"I want a public confession before I ever consider giving you absolution - or a spot on your couch," wrote the Rev. David Ajemian, who signed the notes "Padre," said Barbara Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney's office.

Court papers say Ajemian referred to himself as "your priest stalker" in one note and complained of not being allowed in to see an earlier taping of the O'Brien show.

"Is this the way you treat your most dangerous fans?" the note said.

Ajemian was arrested at 30 Rockefeller Plaza while trying to enter a taping session of NBC's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." Ajemian was a reverend at St. Patrick's Parish in Stoneham, Mass., from 2005 to May of this year. He has not been reassigned to another parish since May.

New York City police officials said Ajemian is charged with aggravated stalking and harassment. They said he had been sending the popular talk show host e-mails and letters since September 2006.

An NBC spokesman said O'Brien is not commenting on the incident.

The priest could face up to a year in prison if convicted on charges of aggravated harassment and stalking.
An alum of Harvard born into the Episcopal church, Ajemian was received into the Catholic fold in 1995 and ordained in 2001.

For his part, O'Brien -- whose senior thesis in English delved into the work of Flannery O'Connor -- counts another Boston cleric among his closest friends.

The future TV talker and future Fr Paul O'Brien (no relation) met during their undergrad years in Cambridge. When the priest opened a soup kitchen attached to his parish last year, Conan O'Brien showed for the dedication... having crashed in the rectory the night before.

Five years back, Paul O'Brien took on the hosting duties for Conan's Nuptial Mass, the Boston Globe reported at the time.

* * *

Keeping with things late night, just on a lighter note, much has been made of the Catholic sensibility as fleshed out by Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert -- so much so that there's even a website (and a great one at that) devoted to the "yes-and" approach of the comic's marriage of faith and art.

A religious ed teacher as time allows in his New Jersey parish, during a recent pre-show warm-up with his audience, Colbert talked about his brief stint as Camerlengo... for a conclave of elementary-schoolers.

As questions were being tossed from the crowd, then in the midst of his fleeting presidential bid, the satirist was asked what his first executive order would be.

His answer: "Be kind to each other"... which led to his account of the decree's genesis, reported by an audience member:
[Colbert] didn’t teach Sunday school last year, because he was too busy with the show; but he substituted, and he was subbing on the last day before summer vacation — when the kids didn’t really want to learn anything. And Pope Benedict had just been elected, so they decided to hold a mini papal election.

He and his daughter made a paper-maché miter, with a glitter cross, and then he “very seriously” locked the door, put the key in his pocket, and told the kids, “Okay, nobody leaves here until we elect a Pope.”

They started by making a list of qualities that you should have to be a Pope: ‘knows the Bible’, ‘good person’, etcetera. “And nobody said ‘must be a man’, which made me happy.” Then it came time to vote, but one kid said “Hey, I’m gonna vote for me,” and another said, “I’m gonna vote for me!”, and it looked like trouble.

(Stephen digressed at this point to speculate that all the cardinals probably do this on the first round. “Hey, might as well, who knows, there could be a groundswell…”)

Daughter to the rescue: “Dad, make everyone vote twice.” That way they would all vote for themselves and someone else. The winner was a kid named Gregory (and his daughter had predicted “It’s gonna be Gregory, because he always knows all the answers in class.” Stephen’s daughter sounds like such a cool kid).

So they brought Gregory up to the front, put the miter on his head and the cloth over his shoulder, and said, “Now that you’re the Pope, you need to pick a name; what name are you going to have?”

And the kid goes, “Urban III.” (”He really knows his stuff!”)

What will be his first papal injunction? Gregory holds up his hands (here Stephen holds up his own for a moment, to demonstrate, and then brings the mic back to his mouth), and says, “Be kind to each other.”

At which Stephen went, “All right, that’s it, we’re done, everybody go home!”
...and that's today's word.