by MAUREEN WHITMAN
THE CAT WHO CAME TO CHURCH
By Maureen Whitman
I wasn’t there that night for Mass, but I did hear the strange story of the persistent little kitty who only wanted to be up on the altar with our Pastor, Father Ed. It was a very warm afternoon in September, and the church doors were left open in hopes that some refreshing air would cool the heat of the day. So, he decided to see where all these people were going. This cat, and I call him “he”, may have well been a “she”, was first seen walking down the main aisle of the church. He was spotted and immediately escorted outside. Not a very friendly gesture to this feline, but it never stopped him from trying again.
And so, this attempt was successful as our Pastor motioned to let him stay. As if very grateful, the cat then proceeded up the steps to the sanctuary and disappeared behind the altar. Maybe thinking there might be something there to nibble on. Then, without warning, he appeared right next to our Pastor during the Consecration, (the most solemn moment of the Mass) and knelt right beside him! Amazing, and many parishioners were stunned at this antic but no one made a move to remove him. Then, when the Consecration was over, he walked away toward the side altar.
Later on, after Mass was over, our Pastor had to record a Mass intention for one of the parishioners. As he approached the rectory, next door to the church, there to his surprise was this little cat sitting on the top step meowing to be let in. The Pastor decided to take care of his parishioner first and so went in and could still hear his meowing at the door.
By the time he was done, the cat had left. He felt saddened, and wished he had taken him in. Unfortunately, that very evening, this cat was apparently the victim of a car which never saw him.
Not more than a few weeks later, I had to bring my old cat to the vet and have him euthanized. Nothing ever prepares you for this. The pain lingers for a long time.
Our church bazaar was coming up and we were all working one evening in the church hall. I happened to notice a small black kitten hanging around the cars in the parking lot. She was meowing at everyone who came into the hall, herself trying to push her way in with someone. I felt badly for her and kept going to the door to see if she was still there. And of course she was. One of the young girls kept asking her mother if they could take her home. I secretly hoped they would not take her. Finally, I went outside and picked her up. She was tiny, about five months old, but very friendly. Then I saw my Pastor returning home from dinner and I ran up to him with this little black bundle in my arms. He was immediately taken by her, and even more so when I told him how long she had cried at the door. Flashbacks of the “church cat”, I am sure, came to mind. “Take her inside,” he said quickly, and we’ll find something for her to eat.” I had a can of dog food in my car, and we gave her that and she loved it. I think she loved being found.
We made up a temporary litter box for her in the rectory. And so this friendly kitten found a new home.
That was more than six years ago, and now Ebony is the official greeter in the rectory.
And Father Ed has a wonderful housemate who waits patiently by the door whenever he is away, and sleeps in his shoes, and just loves to be part of every get-together held at the rectory. So her predecessor, the “church cat”, had a mission…. and that was to make sure that Ebony would indeed find a loving home.
Sequel: Another church bazaar a few years later brought a companion for Ebony. A feisty little black and white kitten showed up at the door while preparations were under-way for our bazaar. Yes, she was quite persistent, and our Pastor has another kitty and Emily has found a loving family at the Rectory. Ebony and Emily make a “purrfect” pair of greeters for all who stop by.