‘Over a barrel Padre’


your excellency pic3To The Most Reverend Bishop Declan Flaherty


Your Excellency,

It is with great sadness and regret that I write to inform you of my decision to leave the Catholic Church.  Actually, it’s not so much as leaving the faith, more the parish itself.  You see where I live, it’s very competitive and I’m finding it very stressful trying to cope with the politics of it all.  I’ll explain further on.

I know you are probably wondering why I am bothering you with such nonsense when I could talk to our parish priest and sort it out on the shop floor, so to speak.  Please let me fill you in. Fr Declan O’Malley has been our parish priest for over a year now, as I’m sure you know, and when he arrived to replace that other fella, whom I won’t name for fear of upsetting you, I was the first person to meet and greet him. By accident really, as he arrived a day earlier than expected and I happened to be at the train station meeting my niece Maura from Wexford.  I noticed him in his dog-collar getting off the same train and as is my nature, went immediately to welcome him.  Anyway to cut a long story short, I sort of became his guide for the day and he took me into his confidence about many things, which of course I wouldn’t disclose, you needn’t worry. However it seems his allegiance has shifted, causing all kinds of problems, not only for myself but some of the other ladies who devote their time voluntarily to the needs of the church.

At the time Fr Declan arrived in the parish,  I was very busy looking after my ailing husband, God rest his soul, so I didn’t have a whole lot of time to devote to my voluntary work. However poor Mitchel went to meet his maker soon afterwards so I could pick up where I left off volunteering.  I felt I needed to do something to keep busy at such a difficult time.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the term “craw-thumpers” but it’s a word that’s quietly used to describe people in the parish who think they are ‘holier than thou’ and are very much full of their own importance. We have a lot of those here and I don’t mind telling you, Your Excellency, that they are the reason I will have to go to mass in our neighboring parish from now on. The fact that I don’t drive and will have to rely on public transport is very worrying for me . What my new fellow parishioners will make of it I dread to think.  They might assume that I have been shunned by my own church or been involved in some scandal or other! This keeps me awake at night as I think  you will agree Your Excellency, we have had enough scandals here to last a lifetime…

One of the “craw-thumpers” in question, Mrs Eileen Brady, who in my opinion is the ringleader, had the audacity to call me to task over the flower display at last Sundays service. She felt I hadn’t distributed the colours evenly and had left a right mess in the vestry, dead leaves etc  which I can tell you is not like me at all! Well I was speechless to be honest with you, as Mitchell (God rest his soul) always said I had a way with flowers and praised my neatness to the skies!  Mrs Brady is the chairperson on the women’s committee and she draws up the roster for the flowers.  Having suitably reprimanded me , in her wisdom, she has decided I should take a break from the flower arranging and take over polishing the silver.  I understand this is because Elsie Flanagan had been made redundant from this particular post  now that her son has taken up residence in Mountjoy prison. Mrs Brady felt it wouldn’t be appropriate to lay temptation in Elsie’s path and had put a red line through her name on the rota with that great sweep of her arm that she has! Coincidentally Mrs Brady’s niece is in charge of the choir and just this past week, when I inquired about joining, she told me they were at their full capacity and it’s only dawning on me now that her decision may have been influenced!

While I felt I had impressed Fr O’Malley with my knowledge of the locals and the dynamics of our parish when he arrived, I do think he is more sympathetic to Mrs Brady’s ideas and way of thinking. I’m not sure if it’s her culinary skills which have helped to form his opinions, but she certainly seems to supply a lot of rhubarb tarts and currant bread to the parochial household. I think she sees herself as his aide in all matters of the church to the point where nobody else on the committee gets a word in. I do know I would be wasting my breath speaking to him on the subject.

I will leave you to decide how best to deal with my dilemma as I know you will decide what’s best for the parish and approach the problem with the sensitivity it requires.

May I take this opportunity to thank you for the lovely service you gave in May for the children’s Confirmation. My son’s youngest daughter Ella was being confirmed, and it was such a special day. Did I mention that my son is a journalist, a freelancer I think the term is? He was very considerate around the time Fr O’Malley’s predecessor had to leave the parish at such short notice by not “running with the story” as they say in the field.  I think he did it as a favour to me, as I was so involved on the committee at the time. Still, times change, people change, don’t you think?  Anyway I mustn’t take up too much of your time wittering on and I look forward with anticipation to hearing from you in due course.

Your humble servant.


Mrs Mitchel Faraday




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