Paul O'Reilly SJ

Hands holding coins and a sapling.
I have a friend who is a professional fundraiser. Like professional politicians and professional journalists, professional fundraisers are commonly regarded by a cynical public as professional liars whose only contribution to society is to part the gullible from their money – a kind of Darwinian economic determinism. That is, of course, when they are not morally blackmailing overly generous little old ladies to the point of suicide. (Sadly, there are real such examples.)But my friend assures me...
A rugby scrum
        “...You have shown you can be faithful in small things. I will trust you with greater. Come and join in your master’s happiness.”I hope you are enjoying the rugby!I have just one experience of full international rugby – when I was very briefly the match doctor for the Guyanese national team. For any of you who aren’t familiar with rugby, it’s a fairly rough game – if you are American, think of American football, but without the helmets and padding...
Pub wedding credit jmason.org
I saw just that happen once – a long time ago in Northern Ireland. A rich man - a pub landlord – funny how pub landlords in Ireland are always rich men – can’t imagine why. Anyway, this man held his daughter’s wedding feast at the biggest hotel in a town a few miles outside Belfast. But this was in the time of the Troubles. And on the day of the wedding, there was a lot of trouble in the city, with fighting and shooting and bombs and road blocks, so many of the invited guests were too...
A hospital room
A long time ago in a land far, far away, I once worked in a very bad hospital. It had a very bad reputation and patients didn’t want to go there. The staff were always bickering, angry, rude to the patients. Many people came to work late; some came drunk; some didn’t come at all. As a result, the patients just did not get a good service. Equipment never worked. When you tried to call somebody to repair it, they weren’t there; or they couldn’t come; or they just wouldn’t do the work. The...
Pope Francis blesses a man in St Peter's square
I wonder if anyone here remembers Philip (“Doc”) Loretz. He was the first Jesuit doctor in the British Province. Up to the age of 55, he was a GP in the South of England – happily married with children and a successful practice. But, when he was 55, very suddenly and tragically, his wife died. Suddenly he was alone – all the children had left home. And he was bereft – like a boat cut from its moorings and tossed without power or steering into the current of life. And somewhere among all the...
An older man listening
An old friend of mine is a cardiologist - a specialist heart doctor. In fact, he is probably the most respected specialist heart doctor in his country. After a stellar academic career, he became at 43 the youngest professor of cardiology in his country’s history. Through his research, he has introduced new techniques and better treatments which have saved the lives of many hundreds of patients. And he is also a good man - a man of great prayer and personal holiness – rather more so than is...
Young girl with tear running down her face
“I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children.”I have a friend – a good and holy Jesuit who is also a world-renowned Biblical expert. I’ll call him Fr John Smith. And his particular expertise is in Biblical languages – he is supposed to know many of the languages which existed in Palestine in Old Testament times, which is not bad at his current age of 92!But, to tell you the truth, he is also an...
A man holds a loaf of bread
I think I know how John the Baptist must have felt when everywhere he went people kept asking him “Are you Elijah – come back from the dead?”. Everywhere I went in Guyana, people always used to ask me: “Are you related to Bryan O’Reilly?”To which I had to respond: “only as brothers in the Lord”. It seemed to disappoint them hugely. One couple came to see me from three hundred miles away in Brazil because they had heard that Fr O’Reilly was back in the Amazon and were so disappointed that my...
The Amazon river by wiki chaves on unsplash
When I was in South America, I met an American woman doctor – a gynaecologist - who also worked in the Amazon for many years. And gradually, after about a year, when she had got to know me, she told me her story. She had first come to the Amazon ten years previously just for a few weeks and fallen in love with the country – the land and the people. And also she had realised how much her skills as a gynaecologist were needed and appreciated. So, after a long discussion with her husband, they...
Asparagus by Tiffany Gallen on Unsplash
Not everyone likes asparagus.I know this because Glen - an American friend of mine - has recently “come out” as an asparagus hater after many years of silent suffering, false smiles and little white lies. But his thin veneer of civilization finally cracked last Thanksgiving at the family dinner (for Brits, think Christmas dinner, but with more patriotism). And he still believes that it would never have happened if his dad hadn’t insisted on a second round of bourbon before dinner. (Again for...

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