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The Priest


This isn't my story but my recently deceased uncle, whom I'll call "Sean". "Sean" is my late mother's younger brother and when I was in Eire back in '94 my uncle "Sean" told me this story.

"Sean" was born in Northern Ireland, Ulster as it's also known, or in in Irish, Uliad. Uncle "Sean" was a very religious, very Catholic, man. Prayed all his life. He had always wanted to be a priest and he would've made a fine one, but my grandfather was against it and trained "Sean" to have a trade. He was a glazier. Everyone in my mother's clan had a trade, even though they were working class Catholics and the Protestants refused to hire Catholics, my grandfather made sure that they had a damned good trade to fall back upon.

Anyway, getting back to the tale. "Sean" when he was fifteen, decided to run away from home and become a priest (odd, he didn't run off to join a circus... Unless being a priest is a part of a circus, who knows?) We had a priest in the family, a man who had experiences with the supernatural, he was a well-known exorcist in Belfast, even the Prods held him in high respect. He's another story for another day, my Great uncle Father M.

"Sean" started making his way towards the Free State, as the Republic of Ireland was known in the 30's. This one night poor "Sean" found himself stranded on a cold, dark lonely back road he took for some odd reason. The night was dark and getting cold, bit of rain drizzling as he made his way along the lonely road. There was bogland all round, towering dark mountains ridges looming as the rain drifted across the moor.

"Sean" saw a shape of a building, which turned out to be an old abandoned church. There were plenty about in Ireland. I've seen a few myself when I was there. "Sean" had no choice but to try and find a way in since the door was bricked over, even where the old stained glass windows should've been were bricked over with creeping ivy over the arches. He found a way in through the old vestry, where then he found himself inside the church. In the gloom he could just make out the pews and, of course, the alter and an old worn out looking cross. He found a pew to lie upon and get a decent night sleep.

He had little food and little warmth as he shivered that night when, around maybe two in the morning, he was woken by the sound of someone saying the rosary. My uncle "Sean" slowly sat up and there, he told me, was a young priest kneeling before the altar saying the Hail Mary and Art Father but in Irish. The young man was dressed like a priest, in his dark cassock, dark hair that was slowly going bald, and palish skin. He seemed to be weeping, my uncle told me, weeping for something.

Then he heard the priest asking: "is there anyone who could help to do my Celebration of the Mass?" My uncle, who was a head altar-boy in his youth, said: "Yes, Father, I will help you." And they performed the Celebration of the Mass. The young Priest, my uncle told me, then turned, faced him and smiled, bowed his head in thanks. The young priest said the Celebration of Mass then got up and walked into the old vestry. Uncle "Sean" followed him but he was nowhere to seen, the Priest that is.

Uncle "Sean" went back to the Church and thought about his descission of becoming a priest. He decided to go home.

My uncle made his way home back to Belfast and met up with my great uncle M who was a priest. "Sean" told Great Uncle M about the young priest and found out that the young priest committed a "sin", he fell in love with a nun. They were caught having sex. She was sent off to some nunnery in France or somewhere and he was punished by the local bishop. The punishment, Great Uncle Father M said, was sentenced by repeating his penances until he was freed by someone who knew how to service the church.

My unsuspecting uncle was him. That was just about the only ghost story he'd ever told me.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, AussieRedDog, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

AussieRedDog (25 stories) (82 posts)
11 months ago (2023-05-01)
To answer some of the questions-one was about how my great uncle Father M knew about this 'ghost' I can only assume that he knew about the story or heard a similar story. Number two, this was a Catholic Church not a Church of England, big difference. Number three, the young priest, the ghost, was in love with a nun (or so the story goes) and being a priest, you are meant to be celebrant (which is stupid for they certainly like young altar boys), number four I don't know if the priest crossed over or not for I wasn't there to witness it nor was my late uncle. My uncle didn't go back to that church. If he did, well he didn't tell me. Hope this answered all the questions. Thanks for all comments though.
lady-glow (16 stories) (3154 posts)
12 months ago (2023-04-24) wrong for not understanding that, by mentioning the 30's, you didn't mean to say that the events happened within this period, but years or even decades later.

Thanks for clarifying.
CrimsonTopaz (1 stories) (239 posts)
12 months ago (2023-04-24)
Aussie Red Dog, I'm sorry to hear Father M is no longer around, may he RIP.
It would have been good to know more. Hopefully the nun and Sean are together in the afterlife.
Tweed (34 stories) (2488 posts)
12 months ago (2023-04-24)
Hi AussieRedDog,

This is a very fascinating encounter for your uncle. You wouldn't by chance know anything about the church it occurred in? I wondered if the history of the church had anything to do with what your uncle saw that night, in light of Ireland's recent history at that time... Or maybe I just watch too much Ken Loach, also a possibility lol.

Thanks for sharing.

Lady Glow, I did some mental gymnastics with the dates of this last night when I read it. But was too tired to wrap my mind around it. I have a couple of Irish friends and both are super open minded. This is just the kind of story they'd retell from their family. I think it's an Irish thing. 😉
AussieRedDog (25 stories) (82 posts)
12 months ago (2023-04-24)
Lady Glow, thank you for the feed back. Now, even though in '37 Ireland was named Ireland, but those in the North until the late sixties, still called the Republic the Free State, which what it was. My uncle was the one who told me this story. I'm only the messenger, re telling the tale the way he told me and I heard this in 1994. My uncle did run away when he was around fifteen to become a priest. How did Father M know about this, I have really no idea. He might have heard a story similar to this one, who knows, the man been dead for now fifty years. Again, I'm only the messenger.
lady-glow (16 stories) (3154 posts)
12 months ago (2023-04-23)

From my point of view, this is one of those stories that look good... Until questioned.


Could you give a specific time frame of the events? After doing some research, it seems like dates can make a difference between your story being possible or just, like you say, a tale.

Based on one of your previous stories, you were born in 1968.

"takes place in the late 1970s, around 1978 when I was ten."


Taking into consideration that "Families in developed countries usually have a high 20s to 30-year gap between generations."


This would mean that Sean was born sometime between the late 1930's to mid 1940's, right? Hence, he would have been 15 years old in the mid 1940's to early 1950's.

"when he was fifteen, decided to run away from home and become a priest...Sean" started making his way towards the Free State, as the Republic of Ireland was known in the 30's."

I don't know if you just offered this information like a side note, or if it is relevant to your narrative, BUT:

"The Free State came to an end with the coming into force of the new constitution on 29 December 1937, when the state took the name "Ireland"."

Which would mean that, although Sean wandered through that land, it wasn't known as "the Free State" anymore.

Like I said at the beginning, knowing the numbers wold make a difference.

Also, according to the following article:

"What happens if a priest breaks celibacy?

It depends on gravity. If it causes a scandal, a Bishop will decide what sanctions to apply. It could be a suspension of a priest or if he continues to commit it even with a warning, an exclaustration. If it does not result in a scandal, a priest can confess it for absolution and sin no more."

Which makes me dubious of the penance imposed by the bishop to the priest in your story.

I will appreciate your feedback.
CrimsonTopaz (1 stories) (239 posts)
12 months ago (2023-04-23)
Aussie Red Dog, I enjoy your stories very much. I kept wondering how did the priest die - old age?
If the priest had feelings for the nun, why didn't he go with her and they could have had a life together. Obviously by breaking their vows to God, they should have been dismissed from the church.
I remember the Thorne Birds with Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward. Similar thing. Richard Chamberlain left for Rome and Rachel Ward stayed in outback Australia. Really worth watching by the way.
Sorry, I'm off track again.
Lady Glow covered a lot of things, one or two of which crossed my mind. (ie: Sins are forgiven during your last rights) So why was the ghost still saying his penances. Was the nun also dead by that stage? How long ago did the priest die? Is it possible that the nun and priest are finally together now in the afterlife? Sorry, about all the questions. I just find your story so interesting and really want to know more.
Thank you for sharing. I'm keeping this one in my favorites.
BaiAnina (3 stories) (41 posts)
12 months ago (2023-04-23)
That definitely sounds like a residual haunting. Perhaps no one came to the priest's aid in life, so he still haunts the church to that day... It's highly possible he wasn't given his last rites, let alone buried as a Catholic. From what I know, breaking the vow of celibacy among priests is an extremely heavy sin that even those who were granted an out from the congregation, to this day, still weighs heavy upon former priests.

I hope he found peace, whether or not heaven is an option for him.
Rajine (14 stories) (757 posts)
12 months ago (2023-04-23)
It's actually kind of sad for the priest and nun, but it see that he's free from his punishment, I wonder what happened to the nun though...
lady-glow (16 stories) (3154 posts)
12 months ago (2023-04-22)

How could Sean be sure that the 'sinner priest' was free of his punishment after his intervention? Did he go back to the church after that one time and didn't encounter the priest again?
Would it be possible that the priest is still repeating his actions over and over again, as a residual haunting?

I'm not denying nor questioning your story, but I think it's not conclusive that the priest crossed over/went to the light/was forgiven after your uncle's help.

Not being an expert in religion, but based of what I remember from Sunday school and catechism, a person's sins will go with their soul after death, or will be cleansed with the Last Rites.
Wouldn't this implied that the priest was denied the Last Rites?

Do you know if Father M knew the 'sinner priest' during his life? Did he say hoy much time had passed since his death? Was he posted in that church and he died there?

"he was punished by the local bishop... Was sentenced by repeating his penances until he was freed by someone who knew how to service the church."

To my understanding, any punishment given to a sinner should be served during their life on this earth... After that it's up to the Lord to decide what's next.

Of course, this is just my opinion.

Thanks for sharing.
The_Lost_Voyage_11 (7 stories) (238 posts)
12 months ago (2023-04-22)
Hello AussieRedDog, great story, thanks for sharing it!

It sounds like the story had a happy ending, the young priest was set free from his punishment by your uncle. It's nice to hear stories from time to time that don't always end in terror and horror or leave the writer somewhat traumatized by the experience, so this share is truly appreciated!

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