On arriving at Redondela I happened to see a nun and asked her about mass.She said that Mass is at 8.00pm. When I explained that I am a priest she suggested that the local priest might ask me to celebrate as he was celebrating a funeral. Around 6.45pm I set off to find the church. Two ladies were stripping the branches of some tree and explained to me where I might find the Church. It was both cool and beautiful inside. After some prayer I approached a diminutive lady who was clearly curious about me. She was called Peregrina! When I explained that I was a priest she was all for taking me to the priest's door immediately. I said that I would come back and set off to visit this little town. On a hot Friday it was full of local people enjoying the start of the weekend.
It was just before 7 when I got back to the church and Peregrina was still keeping an eye on things. A little later the nun arrived. When it got to 7.30pm Peregrina could contain herself no longer! She led me to the house and, with a conspiratorial look in her eye said that she never knocks at the door but on the window of the priest's office. The shutter was closed and I had misgivings about this enterprise! Within seconds the shutter was opened to reveal the serene and cheerful face of the priest. He greeted me warmly (the nun must have warned him of my presence) and invited me to celebrate.
I returned to the church with Peregrina and se about organising the Missal. A few minutes later Padre Benito came in and, with the same warmth with which he had first greeted me, he set about telling me about his ministry. He took me outside to see the Parish Albergue which he has just set up. Back in the Sacristy he talked about eels and mariscos.It seemed a little incongruous since I could here the recitation of the rosary through the open door of the sacristy. Benito was un phased. He has that rare capacity of complete engagement. It was a joy to talk with him and to sense his total fulfillment after 50 years of priesthood. He helped me to vest and wanted to give me the offering for the mass. It was a lesson in gratitude. After mass when I took leave of him he gave me a warm hug and joked that we would meet in heaven. I felt blessed by the encounter. The angels that cross our paths come in many guises even if they talk about eels and marisc.