To err is but human, to forgive is simply divine…

To err is but human, to forgive is simply divine…
The Notebook


Fr Vincent Sherlock


Some time ago I received a text from a parishioner, telling me that there was no need to visit her mother on my First Friday calls since her mother was in hospital for a few days. The level of devotion this daughter showed in caring for her mother remains a constant reminder to me of all the kindness that is lived within families in the care of the aged and the sick.

Thank God, as I was about to click ‘send’, I glanced at the text I’d quickly typed in response and read what I had written: “Thanks for letting me know, hope she dies okay.” Of course that was meant to be “does” okay. Luckily the text wasn’t sent and I was able to correct it. Months later, I shared this with the daughter and we laughed but, had I sent it, I’m not sure I’d ever have been able to explain.

I heard once of a notice in a parish bulletin, reaching out to people who might have been bereaved or separated, inviting them to six sessions in a local pastoral centre. Alas, the news item invited them to a series of “sex” sessions in the local Pastoral Centre. A friend commented the centre might not be able for the crowd! I heard of another priest putting a piece in the bulletin about a meeting taking place in a local hotel which he mistakenly typed as “hovel”! What a difference a letter can make!

Weekly bulletin

You might well wonder “where is he going with this?” I think it’s something to do with parish bulletins or local publications and mistakes. Most parishes now have a weekly bulletin and, generally speaking, they are sought after by the people who want to know something of what is going on in the parish, Mass Intentions during the week, the local Lotto numbers, most likely a reflection and all the other bits and pieces that go into the weekly bulletin.

Thankfully I enjoy trying to put our own one together each week. Like many other priests throughout the country, I haven’t a big secretarial team – or a small one, for that matter. Usually the bulletin is the work of the priest in the parish, unless he is lucky enough to have someone to do it for him. Even if he is that lucky, that person is usually depending totally on what information the priest has been given or passes on.

Sometimes there are mistakes! Maybe a Mass intention gets overlooked, a name misspelt or a date confused. More often than not, that’s when you know people are reading the Parish Bulletin. A phone call: “What happened to Mass for Maggie on Saturday night? I booked it with you a few months ago.” The blood drains to your feet as you check the diary and realise the caller is right! Thankfully, more often than not, people are very understanding and another date can be made or some outcome arrived at that is acceptable to all. Occasionally it might not go so well.

At the end of the day, mistakes are made. They are not intentional and should never be seen as such or taken, in any way, as a slight or intent to hurt. I would never have wished the death of my elderly parishioner but had I clicked “send” that day, could I have explained what happened? The six sessions went ahead in the pastoral centre and the meeting took place in the hotel. The bulletin was discarded in the weekly bin and replaced by another the following Sunday.

So, if there’s a mistake in your parish bulletin this week, unless it’s an emergency, take it as that – a mistake, human error with no intention of hurt or offence!


The Rosary priest

Fr Peyton, a native of our diocese from the parish of Attymass, spent his priestly life promoting the message of the Rosary and, in so doing, enlisted the help of some of Hollywood’s leading stars. “The family that prays together, stays together” and “A world at prayer is a world at peace” are among two of his most remembered slogans.

Fr Tom Mulligan, a priest of Achonry Diocese, has just published Fr Peyton’s Biography and the book brings his story to a new generation and is well worth a read. The Rosary Priest by Fr Tom Mulligan, published by Veritas.


Some church board signs

‘What is hell like? Come hear our preacher.’

‘Come hear our pastor. He’s not very good but he’s quick.’

‘Keep using my name in vain. I’ll make rush hour longer – God.’

‘We are still open between Christmas and Easter.’