Fr.John was a friend of the family for many years. Although I was not a practising Catholic in the family, I often enjoyed his presence. My first guitar was a Spanish classical one gifted to me by him. He never played it and was still adorned with the silky red ribbon around its neck where he hung it on the wall.
He knew how to speak Spanish, having an invested interest in the country’s culture. Fr.John was bearded, wore tinted square glasses from the 70’s and was a taller than average man touching 7 feet. Every time he entered my house, like Gandalf the grey, he’d have to bend down, preventing his head from hitting the door frame. His Northern Irish accent boomed around the house with such joy that even the most depressed person would struggle to hold back a smile.
There he’d sit by the fireside, Cigar in one hand and whiskey in the other listening to me play his guitar. There was, however, another side to Fr.John that people rarely got to see. Among the many people he healed of cancer through the power of the Lord, there was one incident that shook the small number of people that witnessed it.
One night, Fr. John was called to give the last rites to a man who was declared clinically dead. Fr.John entered the room, and noticing he was dead, said to all present, “If anyone doesn’t believe that this man will be raised from the dead, please leave this room.” Nobody vacated the room, but with confusion, and perhaps disbelief, but they remained mostly out of curiosity.
The Muslim Doctor smiled and said, “I’m sorry, but this man is dead. He’s clinically dead.” Fr.John looked at the Doctor very seriously this time. Not paying heed to the Doctor’s advice, he replied, “When I start to give the last rites, I want you to resuscitate him. After a little protest, the Doctor agreed. Fr.John began offering the last rites as the Doctor resuscitated as best he could. The man woke up, immediately grabbed the doctors arm saying in a soft voice, “Hello Doctor”.
Everyone, including the Doctor, ran out of the room with such fright. The Doctor said, “he was dead, he was clinically declared dead a long time ago, this is impossible.” Not long after the incident, the Doctor became Catholic.
What about Fr.John? Well, he was someone who the Lord used to heal people of cancer, and yet, he succumbed to the same disease and passed away. Before he passed on, his last request was for everyone to leave the room. He wanted to die alone…or…was he alone? I’ll allow the reader to figure that out for themselves.
R.I.P Father John. May your memory be eternal.
Your favourite musician,