More Parochial Memories

OK, now I’m tripping down memory lane. I was remembering more Catholic School stuff. It was a small school, something like 120-130 kids in eight grades. We had two grades per room with one nun who would bounce back and forth between the two. This wasn’t a particularly healthy way to learn for this ADD addled brain. There were kids from a neighboring town that would bus in every day.

On the first Friday of each month there would be mass said at the school. On that Thursday, there would be confessions. The two priests from the two towns served by the school would come in to hear confession.

The home priest was Father McGuinness. Not sure exactly where in Ireland he was from, somewhere in the south. He had the stereotypical “Lucky Leprechaun” brogue. He’d been to our house for dinner a few times. Nice fellow, but was a drag for High Mass. That’s when the priest sings the mass. No slam on him as a person, but Father Brendan McGuinness could not carry a tune if you gave him a bucket. It was painful.

The priest from Atascadero was Father Murphy. I didn’t know him as well. He was also harder to understand. He spoke more rapidly and sounded a bit more harsh. He might have come from the North of Ireland, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it.

What sticks out in my memory though are the Thursday confession days. I can remember the Atascadero boys trying to bribe us to let them get in the Father McGuinness line. It seems Father Murphy recognized all their voices and gave out exceedingly harsh penance. At least that’s what they said.

When I was around 4th or 5th grade the training began for altar boys. The classes were on Saturday. Father McGuinness was always bugging me to join the classes and become an altar boy. I knew guys that did it, and they thought it was cool that they got to handle the Sacramental Wine. My dad was the athletic trainer at Cal Poly back then, and during football season, I got to be the water boy for the team. That was pretty cool stuff. I was certainly not going to miss that for altar boy class. Now at that time, my mom’s cousin Luis, in Puerto Rico, was a Monsignor, on his way to eventually becoming a Cardinal. Father McGuinness used this to try and guilt me into being an Altar Boy. “Ah sure and if your cousin the Monsignor wouldn’t be disapointed in ya” . Finally, my dad intervened and told him to back off; that I wasn’t going to do it. So I never made it behind the altar to handle the wine.