have all heard vocation stories that stop at the moment of the call or of the ordination Mass. But
what about “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey would say?
Priests on Call, a new book by
Fr Thomas Flynn, LC, explores the adventure of the priesthood with 15 true vignettes of priests
helping people, administering sacraments in extraordinary circumstances, and saving lives along with
Available for purchase through Lulu Publishing at this link
, the book also has a
foreword by Fr Benedict Groeschel, CFR.
“Priests on Call is an excellent book for young
people to read ‘the other side’ and give them vignettes of the lives of representative priests,”
writes Fr Groeschel.
“I hope that this book will be a very important one for young people and
help them think over their own vocation in life. God knows there are many young men and women
who are being called to the vocation of priesthood or religious life. This book Priests on
Call is an important tool in this effort,” he adds.
Fr Thomas Flynn, LC, has a licentiate
degree in philosophy and is studying for a licentiate degree in spiritual theology at the Pontifical
Regina Apostolorum College in Rome.
A sample chapter, “A Priest’s Worth,” is presented
below.A Priest’s Worth
Silco, Mexico is a
place few people have ever heard of. Perhaps the only thing that keeps it on the map is a
cement factory that had been transplanted there back in the 70’s and was never able to escape.
Settled on one of the foothills of Orizaba, Silco’s natural beauty stands in contrast to the grime
and grunge of the poor alleyways and makeshift shacks that huddle around the factory. The
poverty was a true shock for Fr. Michael Parker who had arrived about a week earlier with a group of
missionaries from Maryland. However, much like the locals, he soon grew accustomed to the lack
of comfort and came to discover that such poverty helped form the simplicity of these people’s
Though every building in the town was in need of repair and a thorough
cleaning, the church stood out with its white stucco walls and ornately painted columns.
Statues adorned every niche and the sanctuary was decorated with fresh flowers that were prepared
carefully by some pious woman. Roses, lilies, and irises became a kaleidoscope of color
beneath the altar and communion rail.
Yet, what mostly impressed Fr. Michael about the
church were not the flowers or the paintings, but the number of people who would come in to spend
time praying with their Lord. It was without a doubt the busiest edifice in town.
Father watched them come and go, young and old, while he administered the sacrament of confession in
the back of the church. Most of his day he spent sitting in that antique wooden confessional
distributing God’s mercy to the constant flow of faithful who had been deprived of this sacrament
for so long due to a lack of priests.
One woman entered the confessional and said, “Father I
am not here to confess my sins.”
“Well then how can I help you?” Fr. Michael responded in a soft
“I am here to ask you a favor. There is a woman that I have known
for a while who lives higher up in the mountains and I am afraid she is dying. Would you be able to
“Of course I would” he said through the confessional grill.
can go tomorrow morning if you like.” The woman nodded and agreed to meet him in front of the
church the following morning at 6:00AM. With that she left the confessional, just as swiftly
as she had entered.
At 5:55 Fr. Michael stood alone against the snow white façade of the
church. He peered into the distance to see the night melt away as dawn crept over the
rooftops. Sunrise always brought with it the magic of uniting him to God, for only He could
create something so awe-inspiring. Wrapped in contemplation, Fr. Michael did not notice the
woman traversing the square until she came to the center and greeted him with a smile.
“Thank you for doing this, Father” She said “do you have everything you need?”
believe so,” he responded as he patted his pockets to make sure he had brought his holy water, oils
and the Holy Eucharist.
“Perfect! To get to her house you will have to take the
trail that leaves Benito Street about half a mile up that way. The path is well marked but it
can get dangerous as you ascend. Follow the path until you find a large rock that is painted
red. At that point you need to turn right and go up for another few yards until you reach my
friends house. Her name is Gloria and I am sure she will be happy to see you.”
Michael made sure he had the directions straight and then thought out loud, “How am I going to get a
truck up there?”
“Truck? No father, you’ll have to take my horse.”
Fr. Parker began his
climb twenty minutes later. Behind him the sun rose as if accompanying him on his
ascent. He had everything he needed, and even placed the golden case that contained the holy
Eucharist on a chain around his neck, so that he could better direct the horse. In the silent
march up the dirt path, Father felt closely united to Christ, who remained against his heart.
The horse strode on with little trouble, carrying him up as if he knew the exact destination of
Fr. Michael took advantage of the few breaks in the trees that
gave him a bird’s eye view of the town, with its steaming factory and white church. He
also contemplated the dense forest that was freckled with coffee bushes and shaded by large banana
leaves that covered the trail like a canopy. Flowers he had never seen before hung from odd
branches and shot out from the rich earth.
Being so overwhelmed by all the beauty that
surrounded him he was surprised with how quickly he saw the red painted rock. “Not much longer” he
thought as he veered to the right and continued to climb. The sun was now above him nagging
him along as a small child who runs ahead and turns back to wait for the other. The horse
continued on unaware of any of this. He monotonously climbed, avoiding rocks and brush that
got in the way. Only fifteen minutes after leaving the red rock, he began to discern a small
shack behind the drooping palms.
Getting down from the horse he couldn’t help but
notice the dire situation of the poor little house. It seemed as if a gust of wind would be
enough to bring the walls down, if you could call them walls. The place looked abandoned
except for a few chickens that ran frantically within their coop attached to the side of the
shack. “Hola!” Father called out, thinking that no one would answer. Sure enough,
no answer came. He strode around the side of the house toward the doorway which stood wide
open. “Hola!” he tried again, and this time heard a faint reply.
belonged to an elderly woman lying on a dirty mattress in the corner of the room. Fr. Michael
ducked through the doorway and walked over to her. She appeared to be in her late 80’s and
Father could tell that she was suffering. The wrinkles on her face changed their form as she
broke into a smile for her new guest.
“Good morning, Gloria!” Father began, “My name
is Fr. Michael Parker and someone told me that you might like me to visit you.” She waved a
hand inviting him to come closer to the bed. He pulled up a chair and began to chat about her
health and how long she had lived here in Silco. After a few minutes of small talk there was a
moment of silence in the conversation and Fr. Michael realized that this was his
opportunity. “Gloria, this might seem awkward, but would you like me to give you the
anointing of the sick?” She appeared perplexed and asked what anointing of the sick was.
“Well, it is one of the seven sacraments of the Church, just like baptism, confession and
confirmation.” Father said, trying to help her understand. The aged woman looked back at Father with
her brow huddled together in confusion. “But Father, I’m not baptized.”
There in the small
shack up in the forsaken jungle of Silco Fr. Michael Parker administered the sacraments of baptism,
Holy Communion, confirmation, and anointing of the sick to the elderly woman. As he descended
the trail that led back to town he could not stop thinking about Gloria’s words after everything
that had happened. She thanked him for coming and then said, “Father, you are the first priest
I have ever seen in my life.” Father stopped in the middle of the trail to gaze at the evening
sky now painted red, purple and orange. Returning to Silco through that natural cathedral he
addressed God in prayer saying, “If you made me a priest, only so that Gloria could go to heaven, it
would have totally been worth it.”