Next to my spiritual father there is no other Roman Catholic priest I can think of whose had a profound effect upon me.
Growing up we had a priest come to the home and was friends with my dad for years. His name was Fr.John. He had the gift of healing apparently and cured a young girl for example of her leukemia.
He was always very joyful and when he entered the home he was the kind of person whose presence was felt even when he didn’t speak or appear in the room.
His deep booming voice would echo around the house and as a kid I used to think everyone in the street must have heard him.
My first ever guitar was given to me by him when I was 7 years old. ”Here, you might as well have it, it’s just an ornament hanging on my wall at home” .It was a Spanish classical guitar.
He never really talked about spiritual things at all surprisingly enough. Perhaps, I thought, he is sick of talking about religion and my family is an opportunity for him to let that go for a while so he can relax and talk about the ordinary things of life.
Additionally he loved to smoke big cigars and really like the whiskey, beer agus Ceol (As Gaeilge for ”and music”).
But when he did get prayerful and there was a time for this, he would say Mass in the home of the house he blessed, then you knew things were pretty serious.
He didn’t have much admiration for modern innovations even to the extreme of throwing the Christmas tree out on the street when he was brought into the parish. ”That’s the FIRST thing to go” he shouted as he threw it away.
There was also a dark side to him too. He had his temptations and struggles like the rest of us yet even more intense. He had struggles with the Lord and one time, when my father approached his house, Father John answered the door and looked like he had been in a fight as his hair was all over the place and his appearance withdrawn.
My father upon entering noticed all the religious icons, paintings and crosses were thrown from their original place be they on the walls or side cabinets and on the floor.
Fr.John just looked at him in silence when he asked what was the problem and why are all the icons thrown from the walls.
Perhaps he stripped them off himself or some more spiritual powerful evil force did it who knows? One thing was certain and that was the priest who healed many of cancer was not someone immune to the attacks of Satan.
In the end whilst I was in Scotland, I got word he caught cancer himself. The very illness he cured many from, came to him in the end and the Lord blessed him by taking him to himself.
Surrounded by just his housekeeper on his deathbed, he told her he was going to die, and requested she leave the room. When she came back in a short time later to see to him, he had, by this time fallen asleep in the Lord.
Shortly after this I came home from Scotland and began my spiritual journey back to the Church.