Friday, August 30, 2013

A Parish Priest's Life

Fr. Frank Campo
The author, Edwin O'Connor wrote The Edge of Sadness in the 1960's.  But it might have been written, today, even though some of the references are pre-Vatican II.  People are people and they always seem to wrestle with the same problems.  Father Hugh Kennedy, the main character might as well be your own pastor, now.

If you ever wondered what your parish priest’s life is like, you’ll get your answer in The Edge of Sadness, by Edwin O’Connor.  The major character is Father Hugh Kennedy, the pastor of an old, tired, and run-down parish.  Father Kennedy feels comfortable there.  It suits him.

Dinner with the Carmody’s, is the first time the reader meets the patriarch of this clan, Charlie.  Father Kennedy is one of the Carmody’s family.  His best friends growing up were John and Helen Carmody.  John is a fellow priest and still Hugh Kennedy’s best friend.  Like all families, Hugh and the Carmody’s lives are interwoven, and complicated.

We learn as we read that Hugh is a recovering alcoholic.  Everyone is rooting for him, yet watchful for slip ups.  Fr. Kennedy not only overcame his addiction, we see him mature as a priest.  He grows to love his parish, his vocation, and his present life. 

In The Edge of Sadness, the reader learns of not only Fr. Kennedy’s struggles, but other priests, as well.  Issues of the parish, pain-in-the-neck parishioners, the associate priests, and the competition among the clergy, the relationship between the bishop and his priests, and family pressures, are all met in this novel. 


Although the book’s date is 1961, it still seems current.  It is timeless because the faith is the same.  We still have priests that struggle and fall.  Catholics still support their priests and pray for them.  The support of love ones, and of course, that includes the family priest, is what our faith is all about.