The last time I visited Vermont was on a family vacation when I was about ten years old. We went into town to buy camping supplies and my Dad, a keen fisherman, spotted one of the locals going down the street with a fishing rod over his shoulder and a huge bass hanging from a line.
“Wow!” exclaimed my Dad, “where’d you catch that monster?”
The local yankee looked at him and said, “In the water.”
I had a very warm welcome to Vermont from blogger Owl of the Remove: Fr Ben Kiely is a young English priest who decided to give America a try, wrote to a couple of dioceses and ended up in a small town in Northern Vermont. Very sweet old church in small town America…complete with skunks under the porch.
We avoided Pepe le Pew successfully, but there was definitely something muskish in the air last night as we sat on the porch. The only other creatures in black and white I met were the local clergy…all of whom smelled very sweetly and were very welcoming.
I felt a bit of a fraud talking to veteran Catholic priests about preaching, being such a novice priest and all, but I did my best. I stressed the importance of story telling in homilies, and encouraged all to share their own faith through the story of God at work in their lives.
I’m always encouraged by the priests I meet. The vast majority are hard working, down to earth, saintly and patient men who put up with a lot. I like the fact that they love the church and serve so faithfully. I love the fact that so many of them have eccentric hobbies. One of the Vermont priests raised money by driving in a demolition derby and makes his own limoncello. One of the deacons had met Joseph Campbell and studied with Mircea Eliade, and told me Campbell reverted to his Catholic faith on his deathbed. They’re a good lot, and not loved enough.
If you’re reading this, go do something nice for your local Man in Black…