Here’s a remarkable story of a priest who conquered an all-too-common (and for many, terrifying) problem:
For one funeral in 1973, this was Monsignor John K. Cody’s biggest fear. So he practiced speaking the woman’s name, out loud, for hours the day before.
Dolores. Dolores. Dolores.
Cody wasn’t worried about forgetting the woman’s name – he had been close to her before she died.
He was afraid of stuttering over it.
Cody, a priest for 38 years who is pastor at St. Christopher Catholic Church near Grandview Heights, has struggled with stammering since he was a child.
Now 64, he has overcome the problem well enough that many of his parishioners and fellow priests have no idea. He credits speech therapy he received in the 1970s for teaching him strategies he still uses.
His success didn’t come without decades of struggle, and even moments of doubt about whether he could fulfill his vocation.
The priesthood involves constant talking, both one-on-one with parishioners and from the pulpit, explaining the Gospel and inspiring his flock.
That’s why Cody could relate to King George VI, played by Colin Firth in The King’s Speech. The film won the Academy Award for best picture this year.
Like the British monarch, Cody had moments of doubt about himself, his therapists and his ability to do his job.
For both king and priest, therapy and hard work took them through stuttering.
“There was one point I thought I should enter the Trappists because they don’t talk,” Cody said, referring to an order of monks and nuns who generally stay silent.
But then, “I just felt, within myself, I’m really called to be a parish priest, so I’ve got to deal with this,” he said.
Not only has he overcome his speech problems, he has gained a reputation as a talented speaker.