Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Like Candy Apples

The first priest I remember in my childhood was Father Murphy.  He was the priest with whom I first banqueted at the Lord's table.  He was there when I was confirmed as a soldier in Christ's army. In other words he was the priest for my First Communion and there at my Confirmation. He was Irish, as in from Ireland, with a accent and all.  He wore a wide brimmed hat and a "dress" with lace as I remember it from my childhood mind. I looked up once the way he dressed and I think it is some order from France.  I never remember him in civilian clothing of a black outfit with a collar.

Father Murphy preached a lot of homilies yelling into a tinny sound system about the possibility of us all going to hell.  He was not what I now call a "My good people" priest.  The Mass was in Latin and Father Murphy faced the altar against the wall with the tabernacle, not the people, during the bulk of the Mass.  I knelt at a Communion rail to receive the Lord from Father Murphy. My family moved at around the time the Mass went to the English and I was in the 6th grade. Father Murphy was the first priest that I remember.

Father Murphy founded that Catholic church I belonged to as a young child. It was in a poorer middle class area.  Today that area has run right downhill.  When a Catholic priest founds a new church where there was not one before, he can stay there the rest of his life.  That is what Father Murphy did.  When he was no longer able to serve, his nephew from Ireland came and took his place.

I met a priest a few years ago who went to the same church I went to in my childhood and he remembered the nephew priest, the young Father Murphy.  This priest's mother remembered the elder Father Murphy.  He shared with me that his mother always told him that old Father Murphy had a temper and everyone was afraid of him.  I shared back that I remembered how good he was and how much he loved us.  And how did I know that?  At the major church holiday and maybe at the end of the school year, he bought caramel apples for all the children.  I don't just mean those in the full time school.  I mean the Catechism (PSR) kids too.  I was one of those kids. One of the nuns told us that Father Murphy always gave us the candy apples because the candy part was tempting and the apple was good for us.

I remember that Father Murphy would stop to bless the children as they played.  Even though I was probably a little scared of him, I remember him as The Good Father Murphy.

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