Priests on Call II

Based on true stories about priests.
by Thomas A. Flynn, LC | Source:

Nestled between two rolling hills, Our Lady of Perpetual Help was a quaint edifice whose small bell tower shot up above the sloping roofs of surrounding homes.  It was a little Church with a little congregation, and ironically, a little priest.   Fr. Peter Schmitz had always been small of stature, but his heart rose higher than most men did.  He loved his priesthood and loved the people of his parish.  He traveled frequently through the small cobble stoned routs of Snowfield, visiting families and trying to help in any way he could.  The town had changed a good deal since he first arrived twenty years ago.  Snowfield now boasted of a respectable hospital, two elementary schools, a high school, and plans to enlarge the parish.

As he was prone to do on most days, Fr. Schmitz sat down to an afternoon tea at around 3:30.  It was then, while nibbling on some shortbread cookies, that he heard the phone ring.  He let it ring twice before he picked it up.  “Good afternoon, Our Lady of Perpetual Help.”  he said.  On the other end there was a moment of silence, and then he heard the voice of a child ask, “Is this Pizza Palace ?” followed by giggling voices.

“Another prank call.” Father thought as he politely hung up the phone.  The same voice had been calling him at the same time every day for the last week.  Fr. Peter knew it was only childish fun and so he had let it fly for a while.  Yet now he was a little more perturbed and decided to unplug the phone so as not to be bothered.  “If someone needs me, they can come and find me at the church.,” he thought.  

A week went by and Fr. Peter was so caught up in saying Mass, confessions and working on the plans to extend the parish that he completely forgot about the phone being unplugged.  That Friday he had gone to the kitchen to prepare his habitual tea when he noticed that the phone was still unplugged.  It was 3:27 when he connected the phone, although he was not keeping track of the time.  Sure enough, at 3:30 he received a phone call.  It rang twice while he stared at the phone.  He let it ring two more times before he picked up the receiver.  “Our Lady of Perpetual Help, good afternoon.” he said hoping that it was not another prank call.  Again, there was a moment of silence before he heard a voice.  “Hello, umm, is Fr. Schmitz there?” the woman asked on the other end of the line.   

“Yes, this is Fr. Peter” he replied.  “How can I help you?”

“Father, I am so glad I got a hold of you.  My, my name is Julie and I need your help.  My daughter is in the hospital and…”  she began to cry.  “And she is in a coma and it doesn’t look good.  Can you please come?”

“I will be right there.” Father said.

Gathering his Holy Oils and Holy Water, he rushed out the door in a hurry and made it to the hospital ten minutes later.  There he found Julie standing over her daughter’s bed and holding tightly onto her little hand.  The girl was 12 years old and certainly too young to be standing before death’s gate.  Fr. Peter stared into her angelic face for a few moments before he asked Julie if her daughter had been baptized.  “No Father, my husband and I never got around to it.” she answered.  Father looked back down at the child lying in bed and asked her mother, “Would you like me to baptize your little girl?”  “Yes, please Father.”  Julie said while trying to hold back tears.

The room seemed to grow quieter as Fr. Peter fished through his bag for the Holy Water he brought.  He was more aware of the sound of her heartbeat coming through the machine in a constant rhythm of hope. “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Father began as Julie looked on.  He read the baptismal rite and then baptized the little girl giving her the name Mary.  What happened next would forever remain in Fr. Peter’s memory.  The moment he finished pouring water over the young girl’s head he heard the loud monotonous sound, which revealed that Mary’s heart had stopped.    Fr. Peter looked up and saw that she had in fact flat lined.  Mary had gone on to her new destination.  Yet, through the grace of God, she had stayed until a priest was available to give her the gift of baptism. 

After spending the rest of the afternoon in the hospital with Mary’s mother, Fr. Peter Schmitz finally made it back to the rectory.  He walked into the kitchen and the first thing he glanced at was the phone plugged into the wall.  At that moment, he fell to his knees and thanked God for that miraculous phone call he received.  Only God could have planned something like this to happen and Fr. Peter knew it.

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