Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Father Donald to the rescue.
It was just after ten o’clock at night when the phone rang. Father Donald got up to answer the call and then said: “It’s for you Ignatius … It’s Carla Perkins …”
“Dear Lord … not again …” mumbled Father Ignatius as he picked up the phone.
When he’d finished the conversation he said to his fellow priest: “Carla’s husband has come home drunk again and became violent in a heated argument. He has hit her hard this time and she said she is bleeding from her mouth … I’d better go over I suppose …”
“You’re not going alone?” asked Father Donald.
After a few seconds of waiting for a reply he went on, “Tom is a big man you know … if he turns on you …”
“Don’t worry Donald,” replied Father Ignatius “he wouldn’t hit a priest, would he … but just in case, I’d better wear my white collar just to remind him …” he added with a chuckle.
Half an hour later Father Ignatius was at the Perkins’ home. Tom was lying asleep on the settee whilst his wife was nursing a cut lip and crying softly whilst cuddling her two years old daughter.
Her husband’s behavior had got worse over the past few months ever since he lost his job in the latest factory closure. To his credit, he had tried finding a job everywhere in town, even further away out of town involving daily travel by train, but he had been unsuccessful. He considered himself a failure unable to provide for his family and as a result spent a lot of time in the pub wasting whatever little the family received from Social Benefits.
He often came home in a bad way and somehow got into an argument with his wife. This, however, was the first time he’d ever hit her. It was totally out of character as normally Tom was a mild-mannered individual who wouldn’t hurt a fly, as they say. But it shows the extent of his despair since losing his job.
The priest asked Carla whether she wished to spend the night with her daughter at the Convent. He could easily ring Mother Superior to arrange it. But she preferred to stay at home, not wishing to further upset her young child.
“He’ll wake up in the morning and be all apologetic …” she sobbed, “he always does that and can’t even remember we’ve had an argument … although this time my fat lip will serve as a reminder …” she smiled weakly.
Father Ignatius stayed for a while and having ensured that she and her daughter were safe returned to his home.
On his journey back he prayed that God may intervene and help this family torn apart by a financial crisis not of their making.
The following day at about midday there was a loud knock at the door of the Parish House.
Father Ignatius opened the door and Tom Perkins barged into the house and stood in the entrance hall, almost pushing the priest out of the way.
“Don’t interfere where you’re not wanted …” he shouted at the priest.
Father Ignatius said nothing and maintained his calm composure in the face of the angry giant.
“You were round our house last night …” continued Tom loudly, “are you interested in my wife? Is that it?”
“Don’t be absurd …” replied Father Ignatius somewhat shocked at the accusation.
“If you come anywhere near her again I’ll knock your lights out …” shouted Tom threatening the priest.
At this point Father Donald came out of his office having heard the commotion outside. He was a big man with a pronounced Scottish accent from his native Glasgow.
“And would you care to pick up a fight with me too?” he asked Tom in a quiet yet firm tone of voice.
Tom said nothing. Father Donald continued.
“I’m the same size as you Tom, and I reckon if I take off my white collar which can be a bit of a disadvantage I can take you on man to man as it were …”
Tom remained silent.
“Or would you prefer to hit someone smaller than you?” asked Father Donald, “like your wife for instance …”
At this Tom stormed out slamming the door behind him.
“Thanks Donald …” said Father Ignatius after Tom had left, “the poor man is desperate …”
“That’s no reason to behave like that …” growled Father Donald proudly pronouncing every syllable to emphasize his accent.
“You wouldn’t have hit him would you?” asked Father Ignatius.
“No way … these stiff white collars are too difficult to take off in a hurry” joked Father Donald as he returned to his office.
Father Ignatius did not let it rest at that. Having prayed about the situation he set out to contact his many acquaintances in town and eventually, after weeks of searching, he managed to find Tom a job with a local builder.
It did not pay as much as Tom earned at the factory but it was a start to help him back on his way to regaining his self-esteem and confidence.
Tom was extremely grateful and very apologetic at his disgraceful behavior when he threatened his priest. His character changed overnight and he has not had one argument with his wife ever since.
And now he always looks down sheepishly whenever he meets either priest as he accompanies his wife and child to Mass on Sundays.