Father Martin Thompson is staying with me at the moment, I am afraid it means a few late nights, we both suffer from that priestly problem of talking, talking and talking, but it is good to have him here, he's is going off to work in Albania again, I'll try and get him to talk at Masses next weekend about it.
During the Communist era most many priests were tortured and killed, lay people could be imprisoned for simply making the Sign of the Cross, sao much was the Church hated by this atheist regime.
Father Martin was ordained here, during my first year in the seminary, whilst Fr Joe Flannagan was parish priest. Martin's was the last ordination until David and Graham was ordained here my first year here, 2001. Canon Joseph Flannagan was an institiution, everyone in Brighton knew him, and to know him was to love him. For Fr Martin he was a real source of inspiration. Everyone in the parish knows the stories of Fr Joe tramping the streets of Brighton and coming across a traffic warden or someone else and saying something like, "Ah sure you have a terrible miserable Protestant face on you, why don't change it and become a Catholic?" Many, many did.
Father Martin told me a story Fr Joe told in a sermon, "A young man was on the verge of becoming a Catholic, Fr Joe was instructing him. His parents tried to persuade him not to, and said if he gave up the idea they would buy him a motorbike. The temptation was too much, to some young men a bike is better than God, but the first time he took it out he was killed."
A famous Joe story several people have told was about him celebrating a funeral of a daily Mass goer, who had died during Mass or Benediction, it had the great line, "There he was looking at his Lord and God under sacramental form one moment and there he was looking at Him face to face the next.
I'll post some more stories later in the week, but why don't you do so in the comments section, does anyone have a photograph of him?