Father Werlawicz

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic
When a humble priest from Chicago, Illinois visits the Vatican for the first time, he is overwhelmed with a new excitement for the Roman Catholic faith.

Submitted: July 07, 2008

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Submitted: July 07, 2008

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Father Werlawicz

Joseph Norman Werlawicz was a humble Czechoslovakian immigrant who made his home in Chicago, Illinois. He was a priest, and made his living as pastor of Infant of Prague Parish in the Bronzeville neighborhood on the city's South Side. Father Werlawicz enjoyed being a priest, and lived every second of his life for the Lord Jesus Christ. He loved his parish, he loved his congregation and he loved the Roman Catholic Church. However, his views of the Church would take a drastic turn in the near future.

Several new priests had recently been ordained in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Father Werlawicz was overjoyed because he was sure that a rookie priest would be assigned to Infant of Prague Parish. He would finally have a resident priest to work with. Sure enough, His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Archbishop of Chicago, assigned twenty-six year old Father Philip Golson to Infant of Prague Parish. Father Werlawicz welcomed Father Golson with open arms, and looked forward to starting a friendship with the young clergyman.

A few weeks after Father Golson's arrival, Father Werlawicz noticed that the parish collections were running very low. The Church's poor box was empty, and the money from the basket collections was nowhere to be found. Father Werlawicz didn't understand why there was no money. Every Sunday he saw generous parishioners fill the poor box to its brim and load the baskets with cash. Was someone stealing money that should be going to charitable causes? Was it a parishioner? Father Werlawicz was going to find out.

When Father Werlawicz addressed Father Golson about the monetary issue, Father Golson was quick to accuse. "It must be the ushers. There's no doubt in my mind. They are not true Catholics, they steal. Cardinal Bernardin should be informed of this problem immediately." Father Werlawicz was shocked. "Father, we cannot inform the Cardinal of the problem until we find out who is taking the money. We need proof to accuse the ushers. We don't have proof." Father Golson looked very serious. "I just know it's them. I'll get proof, don't you worry."

Hours after Father Werlawicz spoke with Father Golson about the monetary problem, he discovered the criminal. It wasn't an usher, either. After dinner, Father Werlawicz noticed that he had misplaced his Roman Collar. He had to celebrate Mass that evening, so he went into Father Golson's drawer to borrow a collar. Instead of a Roman Collar, Father Werlawicz found thousands of dollars in cash hidden in Father Golson's top drawer. He was not only surprised, he was extremely angry. He couldn't believe that Father Golson was stealing money from the parish collections and poor box.

Soon after Father Werlawicz found the money, Father Golson was arrested and removed from Infant of Prague Parish by the Archdiocese. Father Werlawicz was glad that Father Golson had been apprehended, but very disappointed in Church authorities. The Archdiocese did not even counsel Father Golson, they just removed him from the parish. Father Werlawicz lost respect for the Church he served. Questions swarmed through his head. Is the Church ignorant and lazy? Does the Church brush all embarassing situations under the table? Will the Church accept that all clergy are not perfect? Father Werlawicz wanted nothing more than to love and serve the Church as he always had, but these questions wouldn't leave him alone. As soon as Father's vacation time came, he decided to take a trip to the Vatican so these questions could be answered.

When Father Werlawicz arrived in Rome, he immediately went to Saint Peter's Basilica, the seat of the Pope and the center of the Catholic world, to pray. He prayed for guidance and a renewal of his love for the Roman Catholic Church. After visiting Saint Peter's, Father Werlawicz went to the Vatican Library. He picked up a copy of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" and began to read. As he flipped through the pages, Father Werlawicz began to realize again why he served the Church. The Church as a whole is not ignorant or lazy. The Church does not believe that the clergy are perfect. The Church recognizes perfection in only God Himself and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Church, Father Werlawicz understood once more, is about love. The Roman Catholic Church is about the love of Jesus Christ and the belief that he will come again and save us all.

When Father Werlawicz left the Vatican, he had not a shred of disappointment left in the Church. In fact, he was even more proud of serving this sacred institution. He again understood that no human could ever be perfect. He knew that the men who lead the Church are not perfect, but the ultimate message of the Church is. Love is this message. The love of Jesus Christ. He also now believed that the great majority of the clergy were nothing like Father Golson. After all, a wonderful institution like the Roman Catholic Church has to be led by good, moral men. Good people are needed to speak the message of Jesus Christ to the world. The message of love.


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