Monday, October 12, 2009


I was jarred awake by barking at 2AM in the morning. Sebastian heard something in the house and wanted me to know about it. I put some more clothes on and walked out into the dark house. There was a pounding on the back door. The first thought that came to mind was that it was the police and something had happened on the parish grounds. This happened at a previous parish. In fact, at that previous parish the police had a key to the rectory and I walked out of my room in my unmentionables to see what noise I heard there. Running into a huge police man with a flashlight and badge I decided never, ever to step out of my room again without ample clothing. (In case you are wondering, it was a false alarm that time.)

With that scenario in mind I thought little of opening the back door. A gentleman was standing there and said that he was hungry. “Wait here,” I told him and went to the refrigerator. Opening the door nothing made sense. I was so inebriated with sleep that I could not even put a simple meal together. In the end I think I put a bunch of cheese, bread, and pop in a bag and handed it to him all the time Sebastian straining to get at whomever it was.

That is pretty much the end of the story though it was not until later that it occurred to me to ask myself who on earth pounds on a rectory door at 2AM for a bag of cheese. Mighty glad that Sebastian is around.

But it also brings to mind part of the beauty of the Catholic Church. You might remember the post about the architectural safari to Detroit. Most of the churches that were open in the city that visited (usually in the roughest neighborhoods) had nobody living in the rectory. There was no one to ask if we could see the church let alone there be someone there to knock on the door at 2AM to ask for a bag of cheese. Yet typically that is what we have in a Catholic Church. Not sitting there waiting for someone to call or stop by, not always available at that exact moment a person may wish, not always having cheese available – but there. The pastor’s home is at his pastorate.


Anonymous said...

My one very late night rectory experience--in Cleveland, was the banging on an outside door while I aretired priest were upstairs, the pastor was gone. By the time I got downstairs a confused young man was already breaking the glass of the outter door, the upper part of his torso thru the opening as I opened the inner door. The retired priest, I believe called the police & rescue and all turned out OK, although I don't know what happened to the young man, BUT another memorable evening at a rectory.

Saved by Grace said...

Father, Sebastian should be put on the payroll. He is doing a lot of good things for our parish, and now, add midnight body guard to the list. Seriously, though, you never know the mind-set of some people and the harm they might cause. After hearing that story, I think a dog should be assigned to every rectory.

Victoria said...

Why was there no one living in the rectory isn't that where the priests live?

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Praise the Lord that you are safe.

You have a better dog than mine.

My Staffordshire Terrier (supposedly a fighting dog) would have hid behind the settee and asked me to protect him.

God bless.

Fr. V said...

Victoria -

Because of the same problem we had in Cleveland only far, far worse. The inner city parishes had nobody living in the neighborhood - people drove in on the weekend for Mass - no daily Mass - no school or PSR - no meetings - no activity except weekend Mass - hence no priest.

St. Michael the Archangel said...

The priest at the parish of my childhood home (Holy Angels, NC) was quite used to late night events such as this. Being italian he always had some pasta or food lying around and he would just open his door and let whomever was knocking come in and sit down for a meal. Probably not the best idea, but that was how he did things. I remember some time after he left the parish because he was sick, the next priest told us a story that early one morning his dog started to bark and so he went down into the kitchen and heard some noise outside, he grabbed a broom and went out to investigate since it was still dark. He finally found the cause of the commotion, there was a young man in rags digging through his trash looking for food. However the funny and sad part of the story was this, it was one of the parishioners that had just read the life of St. Francis of Assisi and wanted to be a saint, so he put on some dirty clothes and went out to dig through fathers trash looking for food!!! =) Father took him inside and gave him a talk on the path to sainthood and making it there without eating rotten food. I would love to hear the stories of Priests like that in a book, I am sure they all have some doozies!

Carol said...

That's like the parishioner who read of St. Francis rolling in the snow and thought she might at least be intrepid enough to go out on the snowy deck in total darkness, barefooted, and offer a prayer from the midst of a new yet still small penance. Upon coming back inside a few moments later, she pronounced herself some kind of nitwit (a darned wimpy one), and decided to take the slower track to sainthood.

My first thought, Fr. V., was that I was very glad Sebastian was with you. I know other rectories that have gained a dog, and I'm glad of that for so many reasons.

And I'd like to say your story didn't remind me in the least of a whole new direction for Wallace and Gromit stories to go, but I can't.


Anonymous said...

Loved the conclusion!

Fr. V said...

Sebastian is on the pay role - though it is my pay role not the parish!

You are right - It would be a great idea to collect these stories and write a book.

My first pastor did something similar when he was a young pup (he died about 5 years ago in hiw mid 80s. It was called, "Everyone Calls Me Father" and it was a best seller.

I'd have to give up the blog to do it though. Time, time, time.

Matt W said...

The Fr. X book was the quid pro quo I was talking about. The new generation need a new Fr. X--or should I say, "Fr. V"!