Monday, 5 November 2007
A "True" Story ???
On Saturday a telephone call to the presbytery astounded everyone : little Jimmy , the permanent deacon's elder son, left a message saying that his dad won't be able to preach tomorrow as he can't go on, and can't talk about it. He'd taken a whole packet of 'stress-pills' but he'd been to the hospital.
Listening to the answering machine , Jenny the rotund parish pastoral co-ordinator [You know the type: Birkenstocks ,late '70s Laura Ashley ensemble, always smelling of patchouli and coleslaw] set to work. She arranged for young Jocasta to drop off a 'friendship basket' [dried flowers, damson flapjacks and assorted american self-help books] while she made some phonecalls....
Three days later 'Deacon Dave' burst into the presbytery, manhandled the parish priest away from his mid-morning Jeremy Kyle Show and hobnob ; threw him into his office and slammed the door behind him.
"Father what are you playing at ?"
"David...um. What do you mean ?"
"For fifteen years we've been devoted members of this parish yet today I discover that my preaching and ministerial faculties have been withdrawn; and I have to seek counselling with the Diocesan Shrink; the Bishop won't answer my calls - all he'll say is I'm in his prayers.
My wife Liz has been head catechist in this parish for a decade and yesterday she finds she's been replaced by Tom, Jenny's husband - a man who's only been a catholic for 18 months - and the school has told her she's now only needed to teach on a part-time basis until her family crisis settles down and she hadn't to thank them; it was the least they could do.
My office called , informing me I'd been placed on long-term sick but they don't really think it's appropriate for me to return and would I consider early retirement ?
The children arrived for Mass yesterday to altar serve and that fat harridan Jenny told them they were surplus to requirement, they must be brave and care for their parents; Oh and yes under the circumstances they wouldn't have time to be in the parish christmas play ; so her two brats have replaced them ! When Liz asked Jenny what was going on she told her she was too busy to discuss it but everything was being resolved behind the scenes, she had nothing to fear; but least said:soonest mended ; didn't she think ? Oh and of course Liz had been removed from the Extraordinary Minister rota; but her friends in the parish will fill in for her! oh and as they didn't think she'd be willing or able to attend the justice and peace conference; Tom's going instead.
We spent three hours yesterday ringing everyone and anyone searching for you and when we do eventually track you down your mother informs us you won't come to the phone because it's your day off !
Oh and this morning the seminary rang and told me that my course-place on the Masters in Theology had been given to someone else and I could try again next year when I was feeling better. Now could you please give me any reason why my family and I are being treated in this way ?"
"Really David I thought you would be a little more appreciative - It's diocesan procedure as set by the national conference of bishops."
"Really ? so that's why I got a pre-printed 'get well soon' card in the post from the conference - and a nice note inside saying I was off the liturgical consultation committee! I just wonder who my replacement is ? "
The priest almost blushed :
"I believe you should leave now David ...I think it's quite offensive and unhelpful for you to be in denial over the issue ; and considering the parish has rallied round , performing our ministerial duty - If you can't appreciate the genuine love of neighbour within our flock then perhaps you should consider another parish ?"
" Ministerial duty !!? Do you realize what this has done ? we can barely afford to pay the mortgage with both of us working as it is ; and you interfering busybodies have done this ? We could lose our house !! Why ? "
"Dave I hardly think it's appropriate to rake up..."
"...well; because of your suicide attempt"
"What suicide attempt ? I went to see old Mrs McCready up in the Hospital, caught her flu and lost my voice - that's why I couldn't preach on Sunday!"
"...but your son said you'd taken a whole packet of tranquilizers, well stress-pills anyway ?"
"Oh Good grief ! So that's why my daughter came running out of sunday school sobbing saying the kids had told her I'd tried to hang myself because I'd been found in bed with the milkman ! Why didn't a single one of you bother to ring back ? Or come and see me ? Or at least find out what was happening before you interfered with our lives ??? Good God man - I'd been taking Strepsils!!!! "