Wednesday, June 18, 2014
THE DANGERS OF RECTORY LIVING AND THE DIFFERENCE ARRIVING AT THE RECTORY TWO MINUTES LATER
Our Tuesday 5:00 PM EF Low Mass was a Requiem for Fr. Kenneth Walker on June 17th. The traditional Requiem Mass is to the point and quite beautiful. I make use of the option of reading the Scriptures in English at the Low Mass--it is a no brainer and should be extended to the High Mass as well, which is technically a Low Mass that is sung, and not to be confused with a Solemn Sung Mass with deacon and subdeacon.
I read the poetic version of the Dies Irae after the Tract. It is stunning and quite beautiful and if only it were mandatory sung or spoken at our Funeral Masses in the Ordinary Form.
But the point of this post is the dangers of rectory living. Many priests have been murdered in rectories over the past 50 years. Usually it occurs because of burglary. I think too that many burglars don't realize that the rectory is a residence. They think it is an office and that they are breaking into a building after everyone has gone home, not realizing that the rectory office is the priests' home.Some rectories (not mine as it is kept elsewhere) have thousands of dollars available after Sunday Mass collections. This is not lost on criminals.
I had a very close call in my first month as the Associate Pastor of our Cathedral in Savannah. In fact to this day I firmly believe that if I had arrived back at the Cathedral rectory just three minutes later, that I would have been severely injured or killed.
I had gone shopping for some necessities in August of 1985. I had been at my new assignment less than a month. The Cathedral rectory has a ground floor and three additional stories (four total). I entered the kitchen on the ground floor about 7:30 PM on a Thursday night. As I settled in, I hear loud voices upstairs. I could not make it out. The only other person in the huge rectory was Bishop Lessard. I thought he might be arguing with someone as the voices did not sound friendly at all.
Concerned, I started up a flight of steps that leads to the main floor. At the top of this set of stairs is the door to the Cathedral's sacristy. The rectory is attached to the back of the Cathedral. This door to the sacristy was locked, but it had a reinforced window allowing one to look into it from the rectory without opening the door.
As I began heading up the stairs, about half way, I hear what I thought was an explosion. Then I was showered with glass! I couldn't figure out what in the world was going on. Then I realized that burglars had broken into the sacristy by a balcony door off of the sacristy (which has no stairs leading to it, so they climbed up to get in). One of them, and I think there were two or three burglars, had a crowbar which he used to break the reinforced glass so that he could reach in to unlock the door to the rectory and get in and take what they wanted.
When I realize what was going on, I yelled up and told them to "get the hell out of here, this is a residence." Fortunately for me, I startled them before they entered the rectory and the burglar dropped the crowbar which I heard fall on the floor and they escaped the way they entered leaving the sacristy booty behind.
Now get this, I calmly turned around went to the kitchen again and dialed 911! But guess what in 1985 Savannah did not have 911 yet! I didn't know that. So I get a recording that my number could not be completed as dialed and to check the number I wanted to dial correctly!
I am convinced that if I had arrived at the rectory one or two minutes later, that I would have physically encountered those burglars in the rectory and the crowbar would have used on me. I think I would have been killed or critically injured by them.