Sunday, 8 March 2020
His thoughts turned to the many people living rough under bridges and in parks because they had nowhere to stay. And the number of children going to bed hungry because there was simply nothing in the larder to eat. Business closures and unemployment had hit this town harder than most and it seems that Northern England is often forgotten when the economy takes a turn for the worst.
He brought to mind the number of parishioners from St Vincent who lived in poverty and considered what else he could do to help them further. As it is, most of the meagre funds he received from the Sunday collections was spent on helping the poor and old in the Parish; and several urgent maintenance jobs in the church and Parish House had been ignored because he believed helping his flock came first.
He looked at his watch and then at the clock on the wall by his desk. He was due to attend a meeting in town to discuss with the Local Authorities officials and representatives from other church denominations in town what they could collectively do to help those sleeping outdoors in winter.
He put all his papers in his briefcase and was about to go when something made him stop. He could not explain what it was. He knew that he should leave now if he were to get to the meeting on time, but somehow he felt that he should stay a while.
He sat at his desk and looked at the large Crucifix hanging on the wall in front of him. He looked at the clock again. It was time to leave, yet he felt he should stay a while longer. He said a silent prayer and asked for guidance. Ten minutes or so later he felt at ease. A soothing calmness came over him and he felt it was now time to go to his meeting.
He got in his car and drove the usual route to town. About half a mile down the hill he saw the blue flashing lights from a parked police car and an ambulance.
The police stopped him. He got out of the car and asked the policeman if he could help in any way and explained that he was a priest. The policeman walked him further on towards what appeared to be a car accident.
There on the ground was a little girl who had been hit by the car. She was not seriously injured but was lying on the ground and attended to by the ambulance men. She was crying and asking for Father Ignatius by name.
He approached her. She was the daughter of one of his parishioners and he knew her and her family well. She recognised him immediately and crying her heart out asked him to call her mom to come to her help.
Moments later, comforted by the priest, she was taken to hospital, whilst Father Ignatius drove to the mother's place of work and took her to hospital to be re-united with her daughter.
On his way to the scheduled meeting, much later that evening, Father Ignatius understood why he was detained at this office by the unexplained feeling to wait. Had he left on time he would have driven the same route and missed the accident altogether. He was destined to be late and to come to the little girl's help.
This story is based on real facts. A priest I know well was detained by an unexplained feeling in his office and when he eventually left for a meeting he found a young girl from his congregation involved in an accident and asking for him by name to get her mother to her.