Irish Father

by Charles McGrath


I'm sure many people on this site have read or know about the book Angela's Ashes written by Frank McCourt. While it is a very sad story it shows the Irish father at his worst. But I think even McCourt said there is something very special about the typical Irish Catholic husband. Many men of other nationalities that I have observed over the years were not the spiritual head of the family. For some reason they delegated that to their wife. The Jews who I look upon as my older brothers and sisters are an exception.

Most people on this site come from a Judeo-Christian background and I'm sure that they learned enough formal prayers to last a lifetime. But were any of them given to them by their father? Some are part of our culture and family tradition.

As a child my father would tell me to ask Saint Anthony for help in finding something that I lost. It always worked. The lost item would magically appear. We use it in our family today and sometimes I think we will wear him out. Yet I was never told about him in my religious education at Saint Benedict's Prep. Awhile back I asked my older cousin if it is was common in our family to ask Saint Anthony for help in finding lost objects. She has a photographic memory and can recall just about anything. Not only did she say that he was used, but repeated a prayer of intercession to him that developed in the family or some where in our past.

It's more like a "ditty" than a "prayer".

"Tony ,Tony turn around,
Something lost and must be found."

My wife thinks it's disrespectful. But he mustn't think so because I used it successfully many times since my cousin told me.

I'm building a carriage house in PA and I'm always in the Scranton Home Depot with my truck picking up lumber. From going there so often I know many people on a first name basis. One day when I was getting ready to load my truck the when the yardman "Bob" came over to help. He told me he had lost his wedding ring that morning. He also said that he had called his wife and told her about his loss. She was very understanding and compassionately said " don't come home without it" and hung up. He said he looked everywhere and told everyone as he was telling me without any success. He asked me what should he do?

Bob was a big man and he reminded me of George Foreman. I told him this is what I would suggest but first I asked him if he was a Catholic. He said "no he was a Baptist." I said I know you guys don't believe in saints but this might help. He said "Tell me I'll do anything."

I repeated what my cousin shared with me "Tony, Tony turn around something lost and must be found." We both said it a couple of times so he could remember it. When I pulled out of the lot I looked back at him. He was sitting down on a bench looking at his feet.

A couple of weeks passed before I had a chance to meet him again. When I did I was understandably interested in how he made out. He told me he repeated the request to Tony (Saint Anthony) three times by himself. Within a 1/2 hour a woman employee came out to give him his ring. She said she found it in her lunch bag which was in the break room's refrigerator.


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