A 32 year old good time young man who was neither gospel greedy nor a regular at Sunday Mass faced death courageously with the support of a diocesan priest.
He was married with very young children and was thankfully taking his parental responsibilities very seriously when he was suddenly crippled by relentless pain. After lengthy investigations he was diagnosed with cancer and given a death sentence……3 months to settle his temporal affairs.
The day after he returned from hospital the local curate visited him and was immediately presented with “I want to make my confessions “. The priest’s reply was sympathetic and reassuring. ” Think over things for a few days and I’ll come back and we’ll have a wee chat”.
What transpired in that chat or the ensuing daily chats we will never know but the results were outstanding. An acceptance of the inevitable, a fight to the end, doubling the time given and an unimaginable friendship with a priest who visited daily.
The house was full of family members, cousins, uncles, aunts, local priests, workmates and acquaintances from his earlier school life and work places but the visitor he unashamedly treasured most was our curate. The bond formed with him was unreal but had given him a sense of serenity.
His sadness at leaving his young wife and children as well as his parents and siblings was not lessened but the confidence and conviction with which he faced death was certainly attributable to our curate and to other priests who visited and prayed for him over those 6 short months.
It was a lesson to all of us that irrespective of age, status or lifestyle when death calls we have nowhere else to turn but our faith.
The priest’s intervention in that young man’s life made his death more tolerable for all those who loved him.
May that priest and my son rest in eternal peace.