Recollections of My Life and Reflections on Times and Events During It: A Memoir by Father W. J. Howlett

Page 80

there twenty years before. A goodly number of my old school companions of religions and of no religion came also, and we were as glad to meet as any of the rest. I realized then how rapidly the world slips away from us, and like new wine in old bottles, the surroundings were the same but a fresh installment of life had been fused into them. 

         This suggests changes that change, and changes that do not change. I was just reading of two priests who were traveling incognito and were recognized as priests by a man who had not seen a priest for thirty-eight years. It also brings to mind an experience of my own. My outing dress consisted of a suit of grayish brown, a blue woolen shirt, a white lined duster and a handkerchief that tied loosely around my neck. A slouched hat completed my costume. Grand Lake was the limit of my pleasure trip, and from there I took a saddle pony to go about twenty miles farther to the little town of Teller, where I heard there was a Catholic lad with his sister running a little hotel.

         About midway of my journey I came upon an entirely new village in the process of building. I found about fourteen Catholics among the inhabitants and, as it was Saturday, I concluded to stop and remain over Sunday. An unfinished store building served for a church and the entire population of the camp came to mass. I preached before mass to gather the congregation and at mass for the good of all, baptized one baby, and gave them, as they said, the first Sunday they ever had in the camp. I took up no collection, much to the surprise of the non-Catholics who express themselves openly upon it, and one of them said he would have passed the hat around himself if he had not thought it would be a presumption on his part. As it was, he paid half of my hotel bill, the hotel keeper remitting the other half; the stable man would not charge for keeping my pony, and the father of the baby gave me a “Fiver.”

          In the afternoon I crossed the Rabbit Bar Range by a trail which was only a zigzag path over broken rocks and passable only in summer. The little town of Teller lay in the beautiful valley and there I found the lady and her sister. The husband was very kind also and did all he could to make me welcome, even to helping me fix up the temporary altar. After mass, at which the two Indians received union and the Protestant husband was a respectful assistant, I took my breakfast and started on my return. Now, no priest had ever been in the district before, and not a soul there knew me; yet as I was riding out of the village a man approached me and accosted me respectfully and rather reverently. He begged pardon for addressing me, but informed me that he had made a bet with a friend and I was the only one who could decide the subject at issue. He had wagered his friend that I was a Catholic priest, and had I any objection to telling him if I were not so. The incident was unusual, but his manner was not impertinent, and as I had nothing to conceal I told him that he had won. True it is that it is hard for a priest to disguise himself. There is something in his calling

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