In the US people often address a periest – even in those “unpriestly” places as a shop, office, cafe or airport – using the word “Father”. This is how they react when seeing a priest wearing a clearical collar. Sometimes, when they pass me by, like in those miles of halls of American airports, they simply lower their head, saying just this one word: Father.
They can see a priest in a cassock very rarely. And then the reactions are even more interesting. The two described below are from yesterday.
One man (as it turned out later in the conversation – a many-time golf champion) approached me in a farmacy and asked what’s THIS – the thing I was wearing – called, because he remebered THIS from his childhood, but had forgotten the name. I had to spell it. He wrote it down on a piece of paper.
And since the hotel coffee was undrinkable, I always tried to go to the nearby cafe with a very good coffee (of course, for the reasons of social integration, not taste ;-), to remain alert and not to sleep on the lectures or – God forbid – during confessions). I opened the door for a lady who thanked me twice. Once by saying: “Thank you, Father” (for she was a bit puzzled someone opens the door for a woman in this part of the world). Then she said to the person behind the counter that she would pay for the priest’s coffee (here the priest was quite surprised).
Some other time, a woman approached me asking if I where I was from and if I was a monk – because I was in a cassock (that happened a couple of times during my stay). It helps a bit when I say I’m from Poland. And the first that comes to mind when people hear “Poland” is John Paul II and… St. Faustina with her Divine Mercy.
This is how the security gaurd greeted me at the airport while checking my documents: Have a happy Feast of Divine Mercy”, which was the following Sunday.
This year It’ll have been 30 years since I the cassock. And I still like wearing it very much. And it feels great when people smile thanks to that. I love watching the world through the greeting of a cordial smile. So people, keep smiling. Someone’s there waiting to be smiled at from the heart.
Categorised in: Fr Jarosław Szymczak