Thursday, April 05, 2007

My most memorable Holy Thursday (for all the wrong reasons).

About 8 or 9 years ago, while I was serving as pastor at Saint Anthony of Padua parish in Helper, Utah, I had a quite memorable Holy Thursday. Unfortunate, it was memorable for all the wrong reasons. It was memorable because it was the day I fell off the church roof.

What, you may well ask, was I doing on the roof? We had an electronic bell system and the speakers are in a cupola on the church roof. For several months a parishioner had complained to me that the bells didn't sound right. They sounded OK to me, but as anyone who has heard me sing can attest, I am not a judge in such matters. It was entirely possible that the vibrations from passing trains (we were right next to the rail yard) had loosened the speaker wire connections. (BTW Helper was named after the helper engines that were added to the trains to help them get over the mountains.) I had a bit of time before I was due to hear confessions. I put on my overalls and headed up to the roof. It turned out the connections were just fine.

Unfortunately, in my rush I hadn't changed shoes and was still wear my standard deck shoes. As I was working along the roof, I slipped and slid off the roof just barely catching the edge of the roof. (It wasn't as scary as it sounds. This is a small church whose gables are as far from the ground as your average one storey house.) I quickly decided I didn't have enough upper body strength to pull myself up, so I decided to drop and roll. I landed a bit on my feet but mostly on my butt. I bounced three times and landed with the wind knocked out of me. This was a good thing as I was swearing like one of the kids from South Park. As I was laying on the grass figuring out how much damage I had done to myself, the Irish nun who worked for me came out of the church and said, "Father, they are waiting for you in the confessional." (She didn't ask why I was on the lawn. She probably didn't want to know.) So figuring that since I could move my legs, I changed an heard confessions. My back began to get progressively into more and more pain. It made the washing of the feet a true act of penance. Why didn't I go to the hospital? Because I wouldn't have been able to say the Holy Thursday Mass.

After Mass, one of the parishioners who was a retired OR nurse noticed I was in pain and asked what had happened. She asked if I had any muscle relaxants. Ummm, no I general don't have a supply of narcotics on hand. As I was walking back to the rectory, I realized, "Heck yeah I have muscles relaxants!" I filled a tumbler with single malt and downed it.

I was able to go to the hospital the next day. It seems that I had just messed up some muscles. I spent the rest of the Triduum on real pain killers and muscle relaxants. Again making it memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.

Another tidbit of info; my Mass intention that day was for Carly Burton. Carly had died several years before falling off the roof of his house. I have always thought he was praying for me that day.
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