Monday, May 3, 2010


My first pastor as a priest was Fr. Bob Hilkert. He once commented that the priesthood was not unlike an arranged marriage. One day you are told where you are going to live and with whom and you are expected to get along and make a parish flourish together. That is about the long and short of it.

When I came to St. Sebastian I lived alone in this big house. That was the motivation for getting the dog. I wanted something else alive in the house at night besides me and the fern. We have since filled the place up nicely.

The house is quite international. It has been fun learning from my fellow priests about their parts of the world. Fr. S., a resident of St. Sebastian, has lived in the states for decades but still bears the heavy accent of growing up in Poland during World War II. He tells stories of knowing John Paul II when he was but a parish priest. He tells the story about how they called him admiral because he was such a great swimmer or the time a bunch of priests were getting together and they had saved him a cot but he demurred, turning to the oldest among them and said, “He will sleep on the cot, I shall sleep on the floor.” Or later the time Fr. S. was confronted by a soldier who wanted him to speak more positively about the communist government from the pulpit, a request made as a gun was placed on the table. Fr. picked up the gun and through it out the window into a cow pasture.

A priest from Barcelona has taken up staying with us once a week. He likes to walk out neighborhood with me and Sebastian. “There is so much space here even though we are in the city! Barcelona is so heavily populated,” he explained with his distinct accent, “we live on top of each other. Here there is so much space, and trees, and parks!”

“But you have so much art,” I responded, “even your street lamps are works of art,” to which he smiled and nodded.

Also this past week we had a visit from a priest from India, Fr. E. He is on vacation and visiting the States and catching up with friends that he made here a couple of years ago when he came for an extended holiday. After the Sunday Masses we sat out on the porch of the rectory with refreshments. He told me about his parish in India and showed me some pictures he had with him. I lamented that it was becoming so warm. (I am not a big fan of summer.) Already it felt almost too warm to be out of doors in black clerics. He laughed and commented that he was actually cold. It rarely got this cool where he is from.

So that is a bit what it is like living at the IHOP – the International House of Priests.


Anonymous said...

I love your blog, Father, and look forward to it each day. Thanks so much and my God bless you for presence on the web.

Anonymous said...

As a parishioner, I'm glad to know that our rectory can offer hospitality to a visiting priest. What a blessing!

Anonymous said...

Those were the days . . . with Father Bob Hilkert . . . . I enjoyed relaxed visits with Father . . . . no pressure, no hustle bustle . . . . no double talk, straight from the shoulder . . . . kindly, compassionate . . . . . .he was my kind of guy . . . . and so are you.

bob kraus sr

Elena LaVictoire said...

Father E and my husband had some good conversations when he was here a few years back. It was good to see him back on Sunday.

Would love to read some more of Father S's stories!