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Title:  A Postcard from Peter
Author: Peter Clifford

Dear Angels,

I heard through Brendan that there was a group of friends of BallyK who were 
keenly interested in what became of me. He was tempted to write you himself 
but thought you would much prefer to get a note from me. So here it is.

I spose you're a bit surprised that Brendan is aware of your existence.  
Well he got online last year, partly due to my prompting. I've moved around 
quite a bit the last couple years and it's nearly impossible for anyone to 
keep up with all my temporary addresses. So an internet address has proved 
very useful. Brendan has hit on all kinds interesting things in surfing the 
net, including you all!

Where shall I begin? As I said, I have moved around quite a bit. Actually 
the first fortnight after Assumpta died I spent in Cilldargen and Dublin. I 
couldn't bring myself to leave Ireland at first. I guess I was afraid that 
once I left I might not come back. So I got a small room in Dublin then the 
day before I left in Cilldargen. I took a lot of walks. Actually I was in 
such a fog I'm not too sure what I did. Didn't really talk to many people. 
Made a couple phone calls to 2 of my brothers, but nobody in BallyK.  Had a 
real scare one afternoon in Dublin. After I came out of a sandwich shop I 
saw Leo crossing the street less than a block away. I nearly left town that 
night, but I wasn't ready to go, and I knew I couldn't allow fear of seeing 
Leo dictate my actions. Though I must admit I didn't go back to that shop 
again. I met with one of the priests in Dublin. It was a truly a Godsend, 
deffinitely the right person at the right time. I went in there hurting very 
badly and very confused--about my vocation in particular. It would have been 
the easiest thing in the world at that moment to walk away. But I had a very 
uneasy feeling that I would always look back , and that was what I needed to 
talk about. It wasn't that we reached a clear answer that day, but I felt 
like there was an answer coming. He recommended I not decide anything for 6 
months, and that I spend that time in some form of lay service.  This 
priest, Father Darin, is quite gifted at helping people sort themselves out 
vocationally. At least pointing them in the right directions, and in my case 
he's been very supportive.

To keep this to the point I have been involved in 6 different parishes in 
England since I left Ireland. I work with the pastoral staff and the people 
in the community to develop their community outreach programs, particularly 
ones aimed at teens and young adults. I could write tons about how wonderful 
this has been. Working with the teens is so powerful, and we have seen the 
greatest things happen. The stories I could tell! And there are some very 
encouraging things afoot with the young adult outreach we're trying in one 
city. Everyday there are new developments. This is a job where you are NEVER 
You might wonder why I'm not tied to one church, or even one community. Well 
the first reason is dioceses economics plain and simple. Second is my 
preference. I was keenly tempted to get as far from Ireland I as could when 
she died. You know, get lost in the jungles of South America, or the Outback 
maybe... Somehow that didn't happen. On the other hand, I wasn't ready to be 
a parish priest, or village publican or even village idiot, for that matter. 
I still don't feel ready for another BallyK kind experience.  Probably cause 
I know there could never be another BallyK, and I guess I'm not ready to get 
that involved in a community even yet. But even this is changing gradually. 
I think eventually I could picture myself settling in one these communities. 
But I like the stimulation of meeting a lot of people too. And because I 
have a continuing relationship with these various churches I am making 
friends. Good friends, and I'm very thankful for that. Just not the kind 
that you see 7 days a week, sitting at the same end of the bar. Or behind 
the bar.  Yes, I miss that.
(wipe away tears, brace up, continue....)
Really the present situation for me couldn't be better! Life goes on, and in 
some wonderful ways. And you wouldn't believe how my experiences and 
dealings with everyone in BallyK from Eamon to Father Mac and all sorts in 
between have benefited me in my present situation! Just let me say that with 
God, nothing is wasted! :)

I spose you're wondering what I decided at the end of the six months.
Well I won't keep you in suspence any longer. One of the last conversations 
I had with Father Mac he told me that Ireland was filled with Assumpta 
Fitzgeralds. I knew then that nothing was further from the truth! And I told 
Assumpta so. But since she's gone on I have become aware of a greater truth. 
That for me, Peter Clifford, there was not only one Assumpta Fitzgerald, but 
I believe one true love. I will never have all the answers to "why" about 
the way things played out. But the fact that I knew that depth of love was 
the greatest gift God has ever given me. As for my present and my future I 
find my expression of love in daily service to others.  And I am truly 
blessed man. And yes, I am still a priest.

Here's something that may amuse you to know. I have twice spoken at seminars 
for priests on vocational crisis! Is that ironic or what!? The odd thing is 
I don't offer any answers, but only share from my own experience. And they 
love it, I guess there is a lot to be said for knowing you're not the only 
who's had struggles and that sometimes the "right" answer seems 
unattainable. I think the most encouraging aspect of it is that even when 
faith seems be dealt a final blow it can be revived. Hope can be such a 
simple thing. And a small hope can grow into simple faith. Comfort comes 
such in many forms.

Oh,I mentioned earlier that my last day in Ireland I stayed in Cilldargen. 
There was one last thing I wanted to do before I left Ireland for good. I 
got up before dawn and drove in a rented car to BallyK. I needed to take one 
last look. I drove through the countryside, past everyone's house and 
whispered a goodbye to each one as slowed down and captured their homes and 
recalled their faces. Sort of created a mental picture album. I stopped at 
the church. I had planned to go in for a moment but I couldn't bring myself 
to do it. Then I drove up to the pub but parked a ways down the street. It 
was still very early not even six yet. I got out of the car and I walked to 
the door and looked in the windows as best I could. (Thank God neither 
Ambrose or Kathleen caught sight of me.) I even sat on the bench for a 
moment. I hoped for a second that if I sat there long enough Assumpta would 
join me. Or even her ghost. I would been happen for that! The longing was 
painful but in its own way satisfying.
Then I had sudden urge to walk down to the river. And I knew then that this 
was really my destination that morning. It was so beautiful. It filled every 
bit of my senses. I walked a bit and stood even longer. And I felt the first 
real peace I had know since she died, and I truly felt her presence. Finally 
my reverie was interrupted with a moist sensation on my palm. Fionn had 
found me and was licking my hand!
Without thinking we started running and the next thing I knew I had a happy 
panting mut beside me as drove out of Ballykissangel. A cold, wet nose 
nudged my neck as daylight broke out behind the mountains. My last vision of 
Ireland was more of a glowing emerald than I had before witnessed. Every 
farm and every vale bathed in golds and greens which were indecribable. I 
have to believe that someone up there pulled some strings that morning to 
give me the most breath-takingly glorious dawn to ever grace that fair 

Once I was in England I started to feel bad about the dog-napping and that's 
when I wrote Brendan, and our correspondence began. He replied that he would 
let Kevin know that the dog was in good hands.  Speaking of which, it's time 
for Fionn's walk.

So thank you all so much for caring about what became of me. And may each of 
you have a bright and happy Christmas!