24 Jun

A funny thing happened while on vacation

Since it is Sunday, I thought I’d take a moment to share something funny that happened at church. I attended a Catholic church for many years, and became actively involved in the liturgy schedule. I was a lector, which meant I delivered the “Readings” on any particular Sunday. When you become more involved at church, you also get to see what goes on behind the scenes.

This church had quite a large congregation, but it felt small because people also chose to spend time together in smaller groups. A high percentage of members always volunteered to meet the needs of the church. The Priest was well-loved because he approached the needs of the church with a humble heart.

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity arose for the congregation. A trip was organized to visit the home country of the beloved Priest–Ireland. Many parishioners were able to join the Priest on his trip to explore and celebrate his roots. Much excitement was felt within the church during the months preceding the trip, and various preparations took place as the monumental task of planning and executing the trip unfolded.

Along with planning the trip, the congregation was faced with the task of filling the shoes of the beloved Priest during his absence. After everything was taken into account, it was soon realized just how much that one man did each and every day! It would certainly take more than one person to fill his shoes.

What the Priest didn’t know before he left for his journey was just how much the members of the congregation loved him. So much so that they knew he could appreciate a practical joke upon his return. Keep in mind that this vibrant, loving church was a reflection of the life of the Priest. It was truly the home of compassion and acceptance—HIS HOME. While he was off enjoying the trip of a lifetime in Ireland, it came to the minds of a few to plant a large, commercial “For Sale” sign in the front yard of the church to greet him upon his return. I am somewhat happy to say that I was one of those involved in fostering the idea. I then actively searched for a willing accomplice to procure the “For Sale” sign. I soon learned that not everyone was so excited about the idea. I finally found someone as adventurous as myself, and the sign was planted in a prominent place in the front yard of the church.

And then we waited… and waited… and wondered… how would he really handle this?

We knew that the Priest was a jovial guy, but we didn’t really know how he’d react when the joke was on him! It was quite a shock for him to see the sign, and a momentary sense of “I knew I shouldn’t have gone on vacation” entered his mind. Imagine coming back from a long trip, only to find a large “For Sale” sign in the front yard of your house! Thankfully, he knew immediately that the joke was ultimately a symbol of the congregation’s love for him.

I am happy to announce that he was so happy to be home he truly forgave each and every one of us, and I think he even enjoyed the joke a bit. It was fun to be involved in a practical joke that didn’t hurt anyone, and that ultimately showcased the ability of the beloved Priest to exhibit his humanity and character. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

All my best!

Betty Anne

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