The Community was in far too remote a location and was overseen with far too much misandry to keep a priest in residence. However, intermittently, we would have a visiting priest who would say mass at the majestic chapel we had moved on location. When we had mass at The Chapel, children were expected to participate in a quiet, respectful manner. We were to sing on key and stand/sit/kneel when everyone else did. When we knelt, we were never to relax back on the pew. We were shining examples of proper child-rearing in a utopian Catholic world.
Sometimes the priest from the church we usually attended in the small town down the highway would visit and say mass. He generally approached children in a kind, if not absent-minded way. A pat on the head or a smile was what he had to offer before he moved on.
But there was one priest who visited a lot when I was around the age of five or six who seemed to really love children. He was a jovial man; a smaller Irish version of Santa. He always smelled like Star Brite peppermint candies. In a world where the adults seemed tired and confused most of the time, this man who seemed confident and booming was intriguing. He would hug us tight, making us feel like he really saw us. I basked in the glow of his attention and wanted him to notice how good I was.
One Sunday we were informed that church would be at The Chapel that morning. When we got there, I noticed that the visiting priest was my favorite and I hung back in the vestibule so that I could say hello without the other children stealing my moment. Eventually the crowd thinned out as people took their seats for mass. The priest stood in the back with a few adults. I approached him, and as I did, he turned his head toward me, noticing me. In that instant, as his head turned, he smiled broadly and I saw a strange wild look in his eye. I couldn’t know what it was and as the moment continued, he scooped me up, drawing me into his garments until I felt enveloped. I held my breath against his strange sharp scent mixed with the smell of mint and felt like I was suffocating. And all in the same moment, he pulled me even closer, suddenly kissing me directly on the mouth, sloppily. I could feel his saliva on my lips. He said some words that came to me as if I were underwater and then put me down. The opening hymn began. He began his walk down the aisle, flanked by the altar boys carrying a cross. I stood where he had deposited me, blinking and dazed until I quickly put on a smile and went to sit down for mass.