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If you could write a letter and heal a man two continents away, would you write the letter? If you could describe how a Priest stood by you as your child fought for their lives and offered you The Peace of Christ, with words, would you share them, in hopes of healing others? If you could offer encouragement to a Priest who ministered in Africa and was lonely and discouraged, and you lighten his load, would you write the letter? Submit online at www.letterstopriests.com

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Purple Stole

The day was filled with the brisk cold air of autumn in Middletown New York. It was Saturday and we started at 6:00am with mass and breakfast in the priest’s refectory. We had one task and two rewards. Help a family in the parish and play basketball the rest of the morning finishing up with pizza at the local Italian restaurant.

These were wonderful days of study and seeking the pathway God had for us. For me they also held deep wounds that never seemed to heal. At least that is what I felt in the quiet moments.

Fr. Denny was never one for saintly pursuit on the basketball court, and smiled broadly as he blocked my one good shot. Ah the days of youth and of companionship. We walked back towards the dorm and the darkness began to fill my being. I certainly did not want it to ruin this beautiful afternoon, but that did not seem to be something I could command. As I reached the door Fr. Denny grabbed my shoulder and guide me to his room.

“Maybe you have a few minutes to talk Bill?” A simple question and a gentle hand - I followed. Denny took up the floor between his desk and the window and pointed to the stool. I sat.
“I can see it in your eyes Bill,” his voice was calm. “What is bothering you?”
Now as a young man it was more my place to help others than to be helped. I was named William, the Great Protector - I had a lot to live up to. This moment was different though, and for the first time in, well most of my life, I let out the pain that held me bound to sadness.

This man of God, this gentle Priest listened and let my pain run its course. Then he did something that will always fill me with the true gratitude. Reaching across the desk he picked up his purple stole and, kissing it, placed in around his neck. “Well since we got all this dark stuff out and we are here in God’s presence, why not make it official. In the name of the Father...”

The ritual of the sacrament never came so alive to me than in those emotion filled moments. God did not give us Confession to handle sin. He gave it to us so we may find joy and peace. Fr. Denny healed a man that day of sins he did not know how to voice and gave me the true essence of God’s love. He gave me God’s forgiveness and filled me with the desire to be part of His life.

Thank you Fr Denny and thank you God.

Your humble servant,


1 comment:

  1. Bill,

    You are so fortunate to have Fr. Denny as a friend. His actions as you describe them that day are remarkable and demonstrate his true love for you and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He saw into your heart and saw what you needed. What a truly blessed gift he has. Thank you for sharing your inspirational story.


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