An Encouraging Word — ‘All in all, I have had a ball’

God has given me cause to laugh and all who hear of it will laugh with me. Genesis 21:6

When I think back over my almost 45 years of ministry, I must say that “all in all I have had a ball.” Oh, sure, there have been plenty of tragic moments, scary moments and even dull moments, but there have also been some extremely funny things that have happened all along the way. I thought it would be good to share one from some of my assignments.

In Whitley City, Ky., we had a parishioner who had converted to Catholicism while serving time in prison for moonshining. When I questioned him about precisely why he became Catholic, he told me that while serving his time he had met a Catholic chaplain. But when I pressed my “why Catholic” question, he answered calmly:

“Well, Father, around here people like to sneak out behind the woodshed or barn to drink. What I like about Catholics is that they don’t mind sinnin’ right out where you can see them!”

In Monticello, Ky., we used to be the only church in town with a “social service ministry.” We tried to help as many people as we could. One day the phone rang and a man told me he needed to borrow some money. When I asked him what his need was, he told me he wanted to build a carport. “A carport?” I responded in a shocked voice. “Yes, a carport,” he answered. I then told him that we did indeed tried to help people in need but that we only had about $70 in the bank at the time.

This conversation went on several minutes until he stopped me and asked, “Who is this?” I replied, “St. Peter Catholic Church.” To which he responded, “Hell, I thought this was the Monticello Bank!”

In Calvary, Ky., the farmers frequently asked me to pray for rain. One Sunday, after hearing such a request, another farmer butted in and said,

“Now wait a minute! A few years ago we needed rain and we went into the church and lit one of those 30-day candles. It started raining like mad. After about a week of rain, we had to go in there and blow it out!”

At the Cathedral of the Assumption, Archbishop (Thomas C.) Kelly, Father Joe Vest and myself were living in the rectory together. One day the fire alarm went off. As I looked out on the sidewalk from the second story window, I saw Father Vest standing in front of a big fire truck surrounded by several young firemen, with his wild red hair standing straight up, dressed in what looked like a Navajo blanket with house slippers with little bunny heads on his feet.

Archbishop Kelly came up behind me as I was looking out and asked what was happening. I responded, “Well, the house is on fire, but I would rather stay in here and burn than go out there and join Father Vest! What about you?”

Father J. Ronald Knott

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