Fr. Hanlon's Strong Hands

December 2006By James C. Wiles

James G. Wiles is a Philadelphia lawyer.

When I was an altar boy from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, I served mostly at the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Colesville, Penn. Assumption BVM was a part of the newly created Diocese of Allentown. Previously, the Allentown Diocese had been part of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Our parish priest, the Rev. James Hanlon, was from Brewerytown, one of the German-Irish neighborhoods which no longer exist in Philadelphia.

For a rural parish, we were pretty "high church," as the Anglicans say. Benediction, stations, 40 hours devotion, the May Day procession of our Lady and Eucharistic processions on Corpus Christi, Christ the King, and Holy Thursday. If the Pope himself had dropped by Assumption BVM for a drink, he would have felt right at home.

Fr. Hanlon had us altar boys listen to records so we could get Latin pronunciations right. He taught us how to walk, how to stand, how to use the censer, how to chant, and, most importantly, how to look a big crowd in the eye and maintain our composure. "If you ever drop the Cross during a procession," he said to me one time (I was the tallest altar boy; everything I do well in court as a lawyer I learned from him), "make it look like part of the ritual."

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Back to December 2006 Issue

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Wow! What a legacy! Not the rectory, convent, gym, school, church or parish center.

Your words.
Posted by: gespin3549
December 01, 2006 09:08 AM EST
Oh if only we had thousands more Father Handlons. In this evil politically correct atmosphere one can't even say homosexuality acts are sins without being called a homophobe, which I am not. A sin was a sin over two thousand years ago and it still is a sin no matter what they call it today. Alternative life style, pragmatic abortions, relativism etc. A sin then is a sin now. Humanity has not changed. Jan Ann Heller Posted by: hopeandprayer
December 12, 2006 09:02 PM EST
"In this evil politically correct atmosphere one can't even say homosexuality acts are sins without being called a homophobe"

That has been the plan from the start. Take the words away so we dare not even speak them for fear of false labels.

Sad that we have allowed it to get this far.
Posted by: falcon
December 12, 2006 09:30 PM EST
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