A Catholic Story

A reader writes:

As a child, I spent many days in the "public" rooms of a Catholic rectory, where the priest had been a second father to my father. My father's parents had died in the flu epidemic in Boston in 1917, and my father was raised by a spinster sister/brother combination, always under the supervision of Fr. (later Msgr.) Doolan. Monsignor Doolan was a second father to him. (I've changed his name to ensure anonymity).

One summer, I must have been eight or nine years old, a new curate, let's call him Father Callaghan, said he would take me to a Red Sox game to get me out of the gloomy rooms. I was thrilled! Fr. Callaghan was funny and friendly and full of vitality: not at all like a priest, I thought.

I ran to my parents to tell them of this magical intervention. I'll never forget old Msgr. Doolan, with his cigar-stained lips and dyspeptic expression, rising from his chair and shouting, "No!"

No? Why, "No!?" 

The monsignor summoned my father for a whispered consultation. My father listened, nodded, and then turned to me and said, "No." Nobody would tell me why, so I threw a tantrum.

Years later, when I was in college--Holy Cross College, as a matter of fact--I asked my father why the monsignor wouldn't let me go to a Red Sox game with Fr. Callaghan. "Because Fr. Callaghan did bad things to little boys," my father told me, "and we didn't want that to happen to you."

"But it was okay if it happened to other kids?" I said.

All my father could do was shrug.

Story of more than one Catholic generation, and not only in America, it's now clear.