But as with any conspiracy, the longer it simmers the more complicated it got. We had to share our plans – both with the pastoral staff down in Wexford itself, and then with the Keough/Naughton Centre administrators in Dublin. This was becoming more involved with every passing week! And between Facebook posts and email threads, I seriously doubted that we would be able to pull off this epic surprise for our four grads overseas.
So it was with great joy when, on Monday evening, my wife and I walked into the Whitford Hotel in Wexford, where Father Denis had cleverly designed a trap – taking the four out to dinner. There was no mention made of the two extra places at table, as the good priest usually has a joyful group surrounding him.
Then, we walked in.
Well. Mary Atwood (wielding the slotted spoon below), this year's House Director, burst into tears; Joy did her best to hold them back. and Ben and Cameron just stared at the whole crazy scene (for minutes on end), as we all pranced around the table, hugging and laughing and carrying on.
Worth it? Of course! Even considering a long trip across the Atlantic. And these four are doing absolutely amazing work in their parish assignment in the South of Ireland.
Twenty four hours later, the four of them put forward their own Thanksgiving feast – for the entire Clonard Parish staff, almost forty people. And then, in true Irish style, the tables and plates and cutlery were cleared away, and one by one, we all stood up, offering song, poetry, a joke or two. I looked around the room, to those wonderful, shining, loving faces of parishioners whom I have known for so many years, and realized just how very lucky I was to have the House of Brigid under their watchful eye.
There is, indeed, much to be thankful for.
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