The first priest I ever knew was Fr John Scarborough. I would have been around 8 years of age when I visited him at Sacred Heart presbytery, Sandringham, a suburb of Melbourne, along with my mother and younger (by two years) brother.
Fr Scarborough had already left deep impressions prior to this meeting. At this time he was on the verge of retirement and, though a towering figure, at least to me, he was always ready with a warm laugh, forever smiling, and the truest of gentle men.
On this occasion, mum was taking my brother to Fr Scarborough for the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, and I went where they went.
My brother was asthmatic. Medicines not being what they are today, I recall during that period, being frequently wrenched out of bed in the middle of the night by my father and plonked into the front seat of the car, with mum nursing my brother in the rear. Dad would then run every red light in an effort to make haste to the children’s hospital on the other side of town.
The thought that one of those trips may end tragically must have underpinned the request for anointing.
A Great Friend and a Great Mercy
For the record, once Fr Scarborough had ministered the sacrament to my brother, I protested that I should not be left out and reverently received said sacrament. After that, there was not a single such trip made to the hospital and my brother has not suffered a major asthma attack since.
Fr Scarborough was a great friend to my dad, who is what might be termed, a practicing non-Catholic. Anglican by heritage; Catholic by culture, but as yet not signed up.
In year 8, students at my school could choose between one of two camp experiences. One involved an interstate flight, snow skiing, horse-riding and sightseeing. The other involved a dour bus ride to Phillip Island. The first was for the privileged and the second was a shameful substitute.
Somehow, I attended the former, though our circumstances would have precluded it. Years later I found out that Fr Scarborough had paid for my attendance out of his own pocket; a mercy done more for dad than me.
We need priests now…
We need priests now as much as ever, and they need us. Though they represent God, they are, indeed, men.
Parousia is sponsoring a new, annual event to thank and encourage our priests on or near the feast of St John Vianney. The inaugural Support Your Priest Sunday will be held on Sunday 4th August 2019.
There are two ways to get involved:
First, sign up to the novena of prayer for priests. The novena involves nine consecutive days of prayer commencing on Saturday 27th July. When you sign up, you will receive a daily reminder in your email inbox with the day’s prayer, and intention.
Second, give to your parish priest a token of love and appreciation on Support Your Priest Sunday, 4th August. Whether it is a gift or note of thanks, let your parish priest know that you support him and are grateful for his ministry.
You can find out more about Support Your Priest Sunday here.
Can you recall a particularly positive experience of a priest?
Please comment and share below!