Communicating with God: One Person at a Time (Chapter 9, page 1 of 16)


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Chapter 9

The priest in Bedford had been in the parish some four years and had made a great impression on it. He was gifted, energetic, modern and charismatic, especially in the Liturgy, which enabled him to do naturally all kinds of things that I found to be embarrassing if not impossible. The house was a three bedroom semi right opposite the church and perfectly adequate as a presbytery but huge in comparison to what I had been used to and with stairs which even Butch treated with some suspicion to begin with. There was an 'open house' policy so that all and sundry had free access at any time. There was also the mystery of the locked bedroom. Apparently there was a 'lodger' - something which had not been mentioned and filled me, a hermit, with some foreboding. On my third night there, very late, Butch went mad on hearing someone coming into the house and proceeding upstairs into the said locked room. It was the lodger; a young man who was thinking of, perhaps, going on to the priesthood. We had an amicable discussion and agreed that his stay would be limited - he seemed as keen to go as I was to see him go, if only because he was terrified of dogs; never mind new and strange parish priests. The confrontation was friendly and I would like to think it did not affect the fact that the lad never did go on to a seminary. Quite quickly the free and random access - and the weekday nursery school downstairs from 9.00 till 4.00 - were curtailed, although meetings etc were, of course, continued. Surprisingly many individuals made me feel less guilty about this by saying that an open house had quite often made it difficult to see a priest in confidence and they never knew who would open the door or how active the place might be. The domestic changes did not seem to cause much distress or upheaval in the parish. One gentleman did point out quite strongly that the house was not mine; it belonged to the parish. We agreed on that legal aspect of it but decided to disagree on how that should be interpreted in practice and we have remained on good terms since.

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