From: Merl Hanson
My grandparents had come from the old country. They told me about burying aunts and uncles and grandparents and parents. They told me about hunger and how when the potato blight hit, the British said it was God invoking his wrath because we were dirty, poor and we lived together in mud huts while sleeping with the animals. Powerful people like to talk of moral decay while enjoying the fruits of labor. Sometimes it is their own but the more things change the old saying goes.
Iím not envious of the burden wealth creates and the greed that enters the soul of man. Those long ago men who said that greed and envy were some of the evil sins made you feel that being holy and poor was the way to go. They were holy men and they walked the walk. Those were the days.
I tried to be a good priest and shared stories and mistakes. Every day, priests realize how human they are, but most of the time we just talked and once folks let themselves breathe they found the good peace. My friends would bring out the finest Irish whiskey and we would toast long dead Irish legends and laugh at the Scottish who have always thought they had the last say in good whiskey. They donít have elves and leprechauns in Scotland now do they?
More than a few times I wish I would have had a bit of the Irish wisdom with me as I sat in the confessional. Sometimes folks would start talking and you began to realize the choices about living were mostly bad no matter which way you turned. A lot of sad stories and there were no easy answers. I confided in my people that the church would be there.
I loved those old church ladies who thought a wayward thought was the start of a larger sin. They knew their saints and felt the strength of going without. They made due and wore not the nicest clothes but it mattered little as they carried their beliefs beyond the walls of the church. You couldnít find more satisfied people and it seemed as if Godís light was part of who they were.
I calmly smile as I lay here in my final home, staring out at the twinkles of life shown in the dark sky. The wonderful life given me peering into the souls of troubled men, is more than any man could ask. I tip my glass to you and look forward to being together again, dear friends.
Father Kerrigan died a long time ago. He looks forward to visitors this spring.