On a spring day, I was attending mass at my church, Notre Dame. It might have been Easter, but I'm not sure. Human memory is inexact to say the least. There is some blending of facts, and seemingly erasure of facts, but even extrapolation and filling in the blank with totally false remembrances. I'm a little fuzzy on some of the particulars of this scenario. I'll refrain from filling in the blanks just to make the story read better or be more interesting.
I know I was still in school because remarks concerning what I'm going to relate here were written in my yearbook. I'd gone for my college interview to Watertown NY in the aftermath of a humongous snow storm. Folks had to put streamers or orange balls atop their car antennae so as to be visible to each other at intersections. So I'm guessing sometime in the spring.
I recall that I was sitting 1/3 the way back from the alter in the center section and I was by my self. That is to say, no friends or family had accompanied me to mass; the church was full otherwise.
The sermon that day was on vocations. I was going to say the lector was Father Gagnon, but I'm not really sure who was speaking. It makes a later story better if it was him, but I've simply forgotten, and it is of no matter for what follows.
The talk, for what ever reasons, had a strong impact on me, for I truly felt the call that morning. So much so, that immediately after mass I walked down to Wadham's Hall Seminary, which at that time was on Washington St. there in the city. It was probably eight to ten blocks from the church. I went in and talked to someone, telling them about the recent sermon I'd listened to concerning vocations and that I was interested in becoming a priest, and how could I go about doing that? I was given an application and a pencil and filled out the form then and there. When I arrived back home at the Oak Street bungalow and relayed to my mother what I had done, you would've thought she'd won the Irish Sweepstakes (we didn't have Lotto then).
Some time later, a few weeks, maybe less, I received a letter of acceptance telling me that classes started in the first week of the coming September. Hallelujah, Glory-be-to-God! My future career path was settled. Everyone was relieved: parents, school officials, classmates, and me. Even my girlfriend thought it was a good thing.
Oh yes, I did have a girlfriend and although we hadn't done "it", we'd done just about everything but "it."
This romantic and carnal relationship began weighing more and more heavily on my mind. So much so, that I discussed my dilemma with both Father Leduc and Father Gagnon.
"Father, when I become a priest, I'll have to give up women, right?"
Fr.: "rel, seminary is just like going to any college, you'll just be majoring in religion and philosophy from a catholic church point of view."
rel: "But at some point down this path, I'll be expected to swear off intimate contact with women?"
Fr.: "Once you commit to the priesthood, yes, you will take an oath of celibacy."
rel: Yeah, that's what I thought. I'm not sure I can do that."
Fr.: that decision is a long way off rel. A lot can change in that time. Give it a chance and see how you feel when the time comes."
rel: "Maybe. I'm not sure."
Fr.: "Pray to God for guidance rel."
I want to interject here a point that really doesn't fit into my story down the line anywhere convenient. Later, both Father Leduc and Father Gagnon left the church to get married. Father Leduc died in his late fifties a few years after his marriage.
Next: I join the Navy to see the world.