Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.



In 1942 Len Kopsky, Tom Stack and I were fourteen- years-old boys entering the minor seminary in St. Louis. Our pastor, Father Joseph English, had us serving the holy hour we had every Saturday evening from 7:00 to 8:00; and one Saturday he kept us for a half hour of chatting afterwards. He had brought a bag of oranges for the occasion      

Father English was our pastor for twenty-six years, and we all loved him, but he kept himself aloof. We never saw him not dressed as a priest, and he didn’t think it proper for a priest to eat and mix with people. But Len and Tom and I, by entering the minor seminary had entered the inner circle of Father English’s life.

Over oranges in the sacristy that night he read us today’s Gospel about the great catch of fishes. Then, he asked us why did Simon Peter say, “Depart fro me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

I don’t remember our attempts at answering his question, but I remember the reason he gave for Simon Peter saying that, “Don’t you see, boys, Peter was thinking about the money he would get from selling the fish; and he was thinking about what he would do with the money after Jesus left.”

It surprised me to hear Father English saying that; but it started me seeing that the people in the Bible were not holy statues. They were as real as we are. It got me reading the Bible in a livelier way.

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