Wherever have you gotten the idea that the life of a priest is always prayer, preaching, blessing, study and doing all those activities in life that demands a degree of seriousness. Yes it is part of our duty to transform by means of rituals all the important moments of life, from birth to the difficult moment of final farewell, duties which demand that we retain our composure and reign in our emotions. So, either way, some people thought or even nonchalantly expect us to be seriously happy or seriously sad. The real priesthood, however, is not that gloomy, nor is it that bad. It is human, and the priest remains a man, and as in all other human beings, the first sign that he is one, is the fact that he is risible, he is capable of laughing and he is capable of making us laugh - no, I’m serious. And so after two weeks of some serious thoughts and at times gloomy forecasts on the priesthood, we deem it wise to end it with a lighter note, in lighter mood. Here, we present a collection of some funny anecdotes we heard and we experienced firsthand from our priests. And their experiences made us laugh . . . with them.
A classmate of mine bragged that he was the first in our batch to be assigned as a parish priest - a position which some of us have to wait for decades. When the assignments were announced however, he almost fell from his chair. He was assigned in the middle of the forest somewhere in Palawan. And so, instead of calling himself a parish priest, he named himself the “forest” priest.
Being assigned in a far off island is indeed a lonely thing to be - no priest-friends to talk, no easy means of communicating with acquaintances, much less for traveling, for when the typhoon months sets in, you’re marooned. This fact is aggravated when you’re assigned to a people who have different manners, practices, culture and features which to our eyes are less than agreeable, in other words, to an ethnic group. One priest however, who found himself assigned in one of this lonely outpost discovered a way of having his assignment reconsidered after only a few years. One day he wrote his bishop: “Dear Bishop, the girls in my island are indeed becoming very beautiful . . . .” He was quickly reassigned.
A young priest assigned in some hinterlands of Luzon planned well the traditional Easter Salubong of his parish. The resurrected Jesus would come from a certain point on the mountain and the sorrowful mother searching for his lost Son would come from another point on the same mountain. They agreed to meet at a certain point. Came the long awaited dawn of Easter Sunday and the dramatic scenario was put to action - the women following the statue of Mary and the men with the young priest following the resurrected Jesus. However little did they know that there were several roads leading to the meeting point agreed upon. And so it happened that Mary and the women took a wrong turn and so did Jesus and the men. After two hours of walking the two have not yet met. The women were already calling, ‘Jesus, saan ka na!” And the men were also shouting “Maria, saan ka na!” After another hour, the men decided to call off the search and went back to the church. The women however, continued, afraid that “Father will get on them if they gave up.” After however, an exhausting search they decided to call it quits and decided to go back to church at twelve noon, ending the most dramatic search for a salubong that never happened.
The work of the priest can be physically exhausting. What with all those parish meetings, youth activities and all those other social obligations one has to attend to. One priest got so exhausted that during a mass for a dead child he fell soundly asleep during the readings. The sacristan came to his chair and woke him up to his surprise and proceeded immediately with the offertory, forgetting the gospel and the homily. After the mass a parishioner went up to him reminding him, “Father nalimtan mo magbasa sang ebanghelyo kag maghatag sang sermon.” Caught in a dilemma and not knowing how to reason out, the priest said, “Bal-an mo manong, amo ina subong ang bag-o nga misa para sa patay nga bata.” The parishioner taking the priest on his word, only nodded in agreement.
A priest after years of waiting was so proud of his new car, a 4X4 Toyota which he parked in front of his convent. One day however he found out that with trademark 4X4 printed at the back of his car was a child’s handwriting “= 16” making it 4X4=16. The priest got so mad, but since he could not do anything about it, he had it repainted beautifully, this time complete with the answer, making it 4X4=16. This way he thought to himself, no child would ever bother to add the answer again. The day after, however, after parking it on the same spot, he found out that after this already unusual trademark, a child wrote a check sign after it. Yes, Father got the correct answer..
It was one of those great feast days of the town when the liturgy was well prepared and filled with solemnity - exquisitely arranged fresh flowers, the sweet smell of incense, beautiful vestments. Thus it was until the lector assigned went up the lectern to read the second reading. With a booming voice he started, “Balasahon gikan sa sulat ni San Pablo sa mga taga-Corito,’ obviously missing the letter “n” in Corinto. So the priest from behind shouted, “Hoy, kulang ‘n’”. The lector acknowledge the celebrant’s correction and with an air of confidence proceeded reading, “Mga ‘untod’ . . .” adding the missing “n” to the word “utod”. It was one of those readings the people never forgot.