I often wondered what it is like to work in a charity shop. I can just imagine families dropping in bags and boxes containing the things too good to throw out, but not special enough to keep, the bits and pieces of someone now gone from us. The people who donate, definitely want this gift to be a blessing for someone else, a stranger who will give new life to old things. I had a mini experience of this recently when a family member dropped in a box of bits and pieces that had belonged to her uncle, a Vincentian priest, who had taught me in school.

When Fr Frank died many years ago his sister had been given his possession and had filled a drawer with them in her home, where they had sat undisturbed for many years. She died recently and I celebrated her funeral, so her niece thought that we might benefit from these religious items.

I sat down and opened the box, taking out first his ‘Stole’ the decorated garment he wore when celebrating the sacraments. Then an Icon of Our Lady, he was devoted to our heavenly mother. Next prayer books, old and new and finally a flag from the Eucharistic Congress of 1932, a family heirloom that he had looked after, all folded up in tissue and protected in a cardboard box. And there it was, reminders of a man who ministered, prayed and read, devoted to his family, his students and his community.

I think of him all the more this weekend because of Pentecost. He was a member of Charismatic Renewal in the 70’s and ran ‘Life in the Spirit’ seminars in school for us as teenagers. He believed that with The Holy Spirit all things were possible, he prayed that this same Spirit would be in our hearts, enlighten our minds, and help us boys to become adult followers of the Lord, and to do great things. He believed in us like a parent does with their own child and he prayed for us constantly. So many memories came back opening that box, and I’m delighted to wear his stole, read his books and pray with his Icon. His spirit lives on.