To begin, my family is Catholic. We attend mass every week and my parents support many missionaries. One of those included a rehab center in Africa. The lead priest of this center was Irish. When he had been visiting the area, he stopped by to visit with my parents and have dinner. He and my father formed a relationship to which they still devote emails and cards.
My parents were also pleased as punch that I was going to study abroad in Ireland, and when my dad passed along this information to Fr. Brendan, the priest exclaimed that he would also be home in Ireland at the same time! He would love to take me around Dublin!
The calendar date for the event was set. The travel schedule of the study abroad program did not allow for many free moments. But that night came, and I left my friends and met Father in Dublin. He had a whole evening planned. We began with sandwiches at Burger King. I assumed this was dinner. This man was a priest, for heaven’s sake and I didn’t assume that he made much money. He then said we needed to eat quickly because we were going to the Theater Royale to see “Da’” the critically acclaimed new Irish play.
This was right up my alley and was both floored by the generosity as well as this amazing opportunity.
When the play was finished, I was ready to thank Father profusely and head back to my host mom’s. We had dinner and went to a play, I was in college – this was a really expensive date.
Instead he proceeded to say that we had dinner reservations at a restaurant in Temple Bar. So off we went across Dublin to an Italian restaurant where we had bread, and salad, and pasta and wine…it was fabulous! And once again, the priest picked up the check. I know that they preach and practice generosity, but this was beyond anything I expected for the evening. Upon thanking me profusely, he then drove me home rather than allow me to take the bus or a cab.
The next day, my group was off on an adventure to Glendalough (where I was dropped out of a tree). However, before we left I had a phone call from Father wondering if he could take me out to another beautiful spot in Ireland. Sadly, my time there was packed solid and I had to decline. Hopefully, in heaven I will not be judged for dumping a priest.
Note: I am a devout and practicing Catholic. With the unfortunate events surrounding clergy in the church, I wanted to make sure that it was ultimately clear that this was not a date. My family and friends have subsequently named it as that for the humor in it. There was nothing more than a kind, Irish priest who happened to be home in Dublin from his mission in Africa showing around a college student who happened to be in Dublin at the same time. We had met once before when he came to my parent’s house fundraising for his mission, and he wanted to make sure that I felt the Irish experience.