Father Francis grows up


priest_holdingup_chalice_redNow that holidays are over and the end-of/beginning-of-year responsibilities are behind me, I’ve hunkered down to write. Finally. I’m determined that by the end of the week, I’ll have completed the first chapter that sets up life in Clinton and gives the reader insight into Father Francis.

In this part of the chapter, Father Francis is on his first assignment. In the initial years, his pastor protects the young priest’s idealism by telling him to minister to the children. But for Father Francis to grow as a priest, he has to face reality:

“He watched Anna outgrow her fear of worms and Paul extend offers of help not just to his classmates, but to his teachers and others in the community. Guiding the children as they developed into responsible teens – at least for the most part – was like being an uncle to hundreds of nieces and nephews. He had formed friendly relationships with their parents and grandparents. Clinton seemed to be a Norman Rockwell town with families that were good, even if they were not perfect.

Once, he had regaled a policeman with the cut-throat exploits of the Trinity Elementary wrapping paper sales competition. The officer had looked at him oddly. “It’s nice to hear that there is good in the community,” he had told Father Francis. “All I see is the dark side of human nature.”

He hadn’t understood at the time. But he did now.

He had grown up those last two years of his first stint at St. Boniface. At some point, Father Ambrose must have judged that like the children he mentored, Father Francis was ready to be eased into the world of adults. Instead of listening to the trespasses of children, he began hearing the confessions of adults.”

The rest of the chapter will hint at what he learns that helps color his activities during his second tour at St. Boniface more than a decade later.

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