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Young Priest, Old Priest by Donal Mahoney


Everyone in the neighborhood was surprised when Bill McIntyre entered the seminary to study for the priesthood. He had been dating girls since early in high school and had been engaged since graduating from college to a lovely young lady. He often spoke about wanting to have a big family since he himself had been an only child. But something happened in that relationship and Bill and his girlfriend broke up.

"I always wanted brothers," Bill had told his best friend, Adam Moskowitz. They had played basketball together in high school and had remained close friends, meeting at the local delicatessen every couple of weeks to wolf down corned beef sandwiches, Adam's on rye, Bill's on dark pumpernickel.

"At least it's not white bread" is all that Adam would ever say.

Adam was studying to become a rabbi. Adam was the first one Bill told about his plans to become a priest.

"A rabbi can get married, Bill. You'll be single for life. The priesthood is wonderful but it might not be the right place for a guy who wanted to have a big family," Adam said.

But a year after his broken engagement, Bill entered the seminary. After six years of studying philosophy and theology, he was ordained. His first assignment was at a very busy church where several priests were on staff. He was the newbie in every respect.

At St. Adalbert's, Father Bill was more or less adopted by an elderly priest, Father O'Brien, who showed him the ropes of what was expected of any priest, young or old. They became close friends, sharing a love of chess, which they often played into the night, matching wits and having great conversations. Father Bill always said that he had learned a lot from Father O'Brien, especially what it was like to have been a priest for 65 years. After two years at St. Adalbert's, Father Bill thought he knew Father O'Brien well enough to ask him a serious question.

Since he still found women attractive but had not strayed from his vows, Father Bill thought Father O'Brien might be able to help him with a little advice. Constant prayer had helped a lot but he thought an old priest like Father O'Brien, who was 90, might have some special insight. So during one of their many chess games, Father Bill spoke up.

"Father, at what age does celibacy become easier. At what age do women begin not to look as good as they do at my age?"

Father O'Brien leaned back in his chair, looked at the ceiling, ran his hand through his hair, and sipped his Coke. Finally he took a deep breath and said,

"Father Bill, that's a tough question. I don't think I can help you but I know a priest who might. I'll call Father Moriarity in the morning. I'm only 90. Father Moriarity is 95."



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