A very old father

Back in the late 70’s I was dragged to the local church every Sunday. My Dad was a Roman Catholic (as his parents had been) (he dropped the RC when the divorce came along. As they do.) The first ‘Father’ (do they call these guys priests? – says me a confirmed RC myself. Lapsed) was a real ‘Fire and Brimstone’ guy. He really said his bit from the pulpit which I generally heard with my head between my knees because the incense they used as he came to the altar made me feel really sick. Anyway, he died and we got a new guy. He was a soft-voiced chap, moved slowly and carefully, never rushed, always smiled at you. He was the “I see Good in Everything” type. He talked the Bible whereas the previous incumbent gave you LESSONS. I have a very dim memory of catechism teachings. This was around 1977-78 because soon after that I managed to stop going to church. I have no idea how, I just didn’t (my Dad was reading lessons by then from the junior pulpit). This ‘speak quietly’ Father was old then, even to me. He looked like he had at least 10 years on my Dad which would make him around 52. It’s a guess of course but not far off I think. I was reading the news a few minutes ago and there is a story from the village near where I grew up and it concerns the very church I endured back then. Actually, the “Hellfire Father” had the stone church, high pulpit, booming organ, lots of carvings on the wall, stone floor, no heating, draughty windows. “Peace and Love Father” had that torn down and a flat roofed single storey affair was built. Carpets, speakers, no ‘box’ to pass round for donations – he used a plate for obvious “Embarrass them into giving more because they’ll not want to look cheap” reasons and he entered from stage right instead of the procession down the aisle. Even to me it seemed all wrong then. So there’s this story – and “Peace and Love” is still exuding from that same church! Father Melia is still alive .. must be at least 75. I know that’s not old old but it was a blast from the past when I read his name .. I’d not thought of that old church in years.

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