Friar Spreads Hope through ‘Humans of New York’ Interview
By BlackFriars Staff
Fr. William Holt, O.P., shared down-to-earth wisdom with hundreds of thousands of social media users through an appearance on Humans of New York, a multimedia photojournalism project that has produced two New York Times bestselling books.
Fr. Bill, as he is affectionately known by parishioners of St. Vincent Ferrer Church in Manhattan, delivered the following off-the- cuff testimony in a street interview:
“From all sour faced saints, deliver me O’ Lord. I don’t want to be with a grouch, a crab, a crocodile in a moat. The grumps are a small minority. But they’re vocal. Yes, the grumps are vocal. They have unresolved things, maybe from their childhood. They’re not disconnected from God. But they’re wrestling with him. Not a bad thing, mind you. Not a bad thing. But I want to hang out with people who enjoy life. At home I have a sunshine file; it’s just a plastic box. Inside are all the letters people have written me over the years: teenagers in the youth group, widows who lost their husbands. People who I was able to make a difference in their life. For two years I was chaplain on the children’s ward of the cancer hospital. What can you say? You can’t explain why some things happen. Only that it’s a mystery. And a mystery is reality, imbued with God’s presence. One Christmastime there was a ten-year old girl from Ireland, dying of leukemia. All this girl wanted was a Cabbage Patch Doll. Ugliest doll you’ve ever seen in your life, seventy- five dollars. Seventy-five dollars! And sold out everywhere. The mother told me: ‘I’ve looked in every store.’ That same day a family from my parish asked what I wanted for Christmas. I say: one Cabbage Patch Doll, and two walkie talkies. They said: ‘Father, are you sure?’ I told them: ‘Yes I’m sure. I was a kid once too!’ The Cabbage Patch Doll went to the little girl. Then I gave one walkie-talkie to her, and one to her twin brother. So they could speak while she was in isolation. After she passed away the mother wrote me a letter. I keep it in my sunshine file. It said: ‘Those walkie- talkies were the best medicine she ever had.’”
Fr. Bill’s remarks elicited an outpouring of goodwill from the largely secular followers of Humans of New York. “Where is your parish, Father? Your presence, your outlook, your optimism and kindness…that’s the type of religion that I want to be part of,” said one commenter, echoing the sentiments of many.
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