My phone rang at 7:45 am. “Fr. Tom, there is a man in Emergency who is dying, and the family has called for a priest.”
So I call the Emergency department at the hospital (I’m still in my pyjamas at this point) and they confirm this info. I ask, “How urgent is his case? For example, does he have a few days, or only a few hours?”
Response: “He could be gone within the next 5 minutes. Get over here.”
So I finished off my mini-wheats, dumped my tea in my Tim Hortons portable cup, got dressed and dragged a comb across my head. I made it there (through traffic) a little after 8.
And I’m glad I did. As I arrived, the doctor just telling the poor wife “There’s nothing more we can do.” He looked at me and continued, “It’s his turn now.”
Honestly, I thought this man might die in the middle of the anointing. It’s the first time I chose to use the super-short emergency ritual, just for that very reason. He didn’t, but he clearly was getting weaker with every breath.
After a bit of chatting I headed back home, as I still had the morning mass to celebrate! And then a funeral 35 km away…..and then my hospital shift in the afternoon…..and then meeting a couple for marriage prep…..I think it’s time to go and catch up with my breviary!
Life as a priest sure isn’t boring!