Vinny makes a big splash on Holy Communion Day
Good deed backfires when the burly bus driver steps forward to aid an old pal in a sudden crisis
As an attentive godfather, Vinny Fitzpatrick felt his duties on Holy Communion Day were akin to those of the best man at a wedding.
It explained why he was on schedule, and dressed smartly – in his only suit – when he arrived at Brennie’s gaffe in Seafield Avenue at ten bells, armed with a card and a crisp €50 note for young Master Benjamin, aged eight and a half.
Vinny felt Communion Day was like Christmas for nippers, only better in some ways. For starters, the weather was warmer, and the gifts came in enticing envelopes, rather than layers of fancy wrapping.
Vinny didn’t agree with cash donations as he heard it led to bragging rights in school over who got the most lolly, but as ‘the godfather’, he was damned if anyone was to trump his contribution. So, a nifty-fifty it was.
Anyway Benny was a smart and polite kid, whose only failing was an unhealthy allegiance to Manchester United. For that, he could blame his father.
The mood in Brennie’s home was sunny, a refreshing change after that messy business in the bank a few years back where Brennie salted away a secret stash to fuel a spiralling gambling habit. He’d almost lost his job, his wife and his liberty but somehow he’d clawed his way back from the brink.
After a quick cuppa and a toasted white pudding sarnie, it was time for the short walk to St Gabriel’s for Communion Mass. Predictably, the place was jammers as teachers from Belgrove NS did their best to shepherd the kids into their assigned pews.
Vinny was squeezing his bulky frame into the row behind Benny when he felt a tug on his arm. He looked around to see Fr Leo Lavelle, the parish priest. He went way back with Leo, to their days in St Joey’s in Fairview.
“Alright, Leo, what’s the story,” he said.
“Our only altar boy, I mean server, has cried off at short notice. Could you spare us an hour, Vinny?” pleaded Leo
“Yep, Leo, no probs. Gives me an excuse to take off this bloody jacket,” said Vinny .
It was 40 years since Vinny last served in St Gabriel’s but the instincts hammered into him, quite literally, in the late 1960s by the priests of the time, stood to his stead.
With steady hands, he made sure the microphones were at the right height for the readers and the offertory gifts were in place.
At the Eucharistic Prayer, he dinged the bell, loud and clear – so much so that Leo stole a glance at him over his glasses. Undeterred, for he was enjoying himself, Vinny gave it another dong before the Communion ritual.
Then the script went awry. Vinny opened the tabernacle and withdrew a shiny chalice full of hosts about to be presented to 180 expectant kids for the first time.
As he turned towards a waiting Leo Lavelle, and a covey of ministers of the Eucharist, Vinny missed the first step by the altar. Instinctively, he threw out a hand to safe himself from falling. As he did, the hosts rocketed skywards.