Father Brendan’s Thursday Thoughts | OPINION

I didn’t end up going out to a New Year’s Eve party this year….. or do we say “last year”? 

For starters, I couldn’t remember “Auld Lang Syne” and besides, priests and NYE parties are a bad mix. 

Half the crowd at the party is trying to get you drunk including yourself, and the other half is wondering what a priest in a dunce hat is doing up at midnight drinking a beer through a kazoo.

If I’m dressed as a priest at a fancy-dress NYE party it’s fairly smooth sailing; but if it’s not fancy-dress: hmm, awkward.

I mean, what do you say to a priest at a party? If you call him “Father” he’ll say “It’s John!” and if you call him “John” he’ll probably say “It’s Father!” 

Once you’ve cleared that awkward hurdle, keeping the conversation going with a priest at a party needs divine intervention, because you already know the answers to all your usual questions: “So.. Father John…. What do you do for a living?..... Does it pay well?.... Are you married?.... Are you in a committed relationship?... Well, are you seeing someone? Do you have any children?... So, what are your views on... Um, so what’s your opinion on…….” 

No wonder people at parties usually end up asking me “Do you sleep in that?”  

So I stayed home this/last NYE with some cool friends. 

Who are cool friends on NYE?

I think they’re the friends who, on hearing your New Year’s resolutions, wait until they’re home before bursting into raucous laughter. 

If they’re really cool friends they won’t say how similar your “this year’s” resolutions are to your last 10.

Why do most people not keep New Year resolutions? Well, let’s muse on the most tried and failed of them all: weight loss.  

People go as hard as diamond for two days and are on the rocks by January 3 because nobody can stay at that level of intensity.

If you travel gently and stay the course, in time, you’ll become strong and win your goal.

Last week saw the death of the legendary Father Kevin Flanagan who ministered here in Albury-Wodonga for over 40 years. 

I had the honour of living with Fr Kevin for a weekend many years ago when I was travelling around giving talks for the missions. 

A lot of the older and more liberal priests were a bit mean to me as I travelled around, me being a young conservative cleric, but never Fr Kevin Flanagan.

The name Kevin means “gentle” and he certainly lived up to his name. 

He showed me a genuine kindness and a love that made me feel honoured and at home as he cooked for me.

Poor and hungry people came to Fr Kevin’s door day and night and he helped them all. 

That was a very memorable and pivotal weekend in my life and I’m emotional writing this column.

The Bible teaches “The wise man listens to counsel” and so there were several times over the years when I had questions so difficult I would say to myself “I’ll go see Fr Flanagan”.

I’m very sure he wanted me to call him “Kevin”, but I found it so hard not to call him “Father” in the presence of his superior understanding of ministry and humanity. 

Vale Fr Kevin Flanagan. 

So many people from so many walks of life found peace for having known Fr Kevin. 

May Fr Kevin now rest in God’s peace. 

Father Brendan Lee, Twitter: @frbrendanelee