Posted August 18, 2011 in MH Toronto ON:
Our Reclusive Neighbour

by Trudi Cortens.

When we moved into our house a number of years ago, there was a man next door who was a recluse. He wasn’t able to keep up his house, and, as far as we could tell, he hardly talked to anyone. I don’t know what he thought of us. We were kind and friendly to him whenever we saw him, and he responded with a minimal "hello."

One day a young woman knocked at our door. "That’s my uncle Bill who lives next door to you," she said, "and he won’t open the door to me. I’ve just returned from Medjugorje, and it’s obvious that you are Catholic. I think God put you here to bring my uncle back to the Church before he dies."

"That’s a tall order," I said. But we put a statue of Our Lady in our yard—facing his house—and we put medals all around the yard, and were as nice to him as we could be. But there was no way that he would even talk to us.

Then one day he got sick and landed in the hospital. We started visiting him—just being good neighbors. On one of these visits, I had a rosary in my hand, and he said, "My mother used to have a rosary like that."

"Would you like me to leave it with you?" I asked. He said, "That would be nice."

I thought to myself, "Maybe this is a hint." So I said to him, "Maybe we could say a Hail Mary together?" He said, "All right," and we did.

The next night, we were able to say a Hail Mary and an Our Father. We were making progress! So I bent over and gave him a little peck on the cheek. He didn’t push me away.

When I visited him again a couple of nights later, we prayed together again, but this time I didn’t give him a peck. He said, "Hey! You forgot to give me my kiss!"

I could see that he was becoming more ill and that he didn’t have too much longer to live. So I asked Fr. Duffy to visit him. Father is very good with dying people.

So Fr. Duffy went. A couple of days later, he went again and could see that Bill was dying. So Fr. Duffy gave him the sacrament of the sick. Shortly after that, Bill died.

We were in touch with his niece and other relatives in Edmonton who had very much wanted him to return to the Church.

When we phoned to tell them that Fr. Duffy had absolved him and that he could have a Catholic funeral, they were wild with joy. They came rushing in from Edmonton for the occasion.

Bill may have lived as a recluse, but he certainly didn’t die as one. The funeral Mass was celebrated by two priests, including Fr. Duffy who gave the homily, and his family and all our house were in attendance. And, because there was going to be a wedding that day, the church was filled with flowers. It was beautiful, and we were imagining the rejoicing in heaven.


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