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Thursday, 9 April 2009

To Have Faith in the Faith and in the Faithful

A wonderful obituary story, a testament to a priest who was quite a man, a man who was quite a priest.
He was a soldier to the end. His threadbare army tunic hung on the wall, and his room was filled with religious icons, rosaries and holy pictures.

And when you spoke to him, his words were about the men he knew on the battlefields of France when he rigged up a makeshift altar on the hood of his jeep and said mass for them.

The photos from the Second World War show these anxious men kneeling, their heads bowed, silent in the muddy fields just hours before they were sent into battle.

And when age finally wore him down ... this old priest told me it wouldn't stop him from saying mass in his bed at the nursing home.

It would never stop him from being a priest. And there was no way he would ever lose his faith in his religion or people....When I met Father Dalton in the mid-1990s, this legendary padre with the Essex Scottish, who landed at Normandy in 1944, complained of sitting in a wheelchair. His legs had given out on him. He prayed for God to give him back his strength, so he could stand up again and say [M]ass....

[At times, on the battlefield] he was so lost in the reverie of saying [M]ass on the hood of his jeep that he would suddenly turn to give a blessing, "and there was no one there ... I was all alone. The soldiers had jumped for cover, and shrapnel was flying everywhere. I hadn't heard a thing."...

I asked why he joined the army. He said that when he served at St. Alphonsus in downtown Windsor, he realized those same kids who had made their First Communion in that church were now running off to war.

"I had to go with them," he said.

God send us many more such men!

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