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The Young Priest's Keepsake by Michael Phelan

Produced by Angela



Second Edition.


1st. Edition MAY, 1909. 2nd. -- Enlarged, NOV., 1909.


This little book is written in the hope that it may assist young priests and ecclesiastical students to meet the demands which the life before them has in store.

Works specially suited to the priest, the layman and the nun are happily abundant; but to the young man standing on the threshold of his career as a priest, how few are addressed. Yet it is while his character is in the formative stage, and his weapons are still in the shaping, that advice and direction are of most practical value.

The writer brings to his task only one qualification on which he can rely--his own personal experience.

After having gone through a long course of preparation in Irish ecclesiastical colleges, he lived for nearly thirteen years on the Australian mission, and is now completing a decade spent in giving missions and retreats in all parts of Ireland. Of the college, therefore, and of the foreign and home missions he can speak with whatever authority a long experience and ordinary powers of observation are supposed to give.

In dealing with the foreign mission he does not rely solely on his own judgment. Many matters here treated of he heard repeatedly discussed by priests abroad, who bitterly deplored that, while in college, they knew so little of the life before them, and regretted that there was then no kind friend to take them by the hand and show them what was in store when the day came for them to plunge into a life that was strange and entirely new. It is to be hoped that this modest volume will, in part at least, discharge the office of that friend.

It may appear, at first sight, that when writing the fourth chapter, "On Pulpit Oratory," the author had before his mind an elaborate discourse, such as is expected only on great occasions. This is not so.

It is true that the various parts of a sermon, when detailed in analysis, may seem, like the works of a watch spread out on a table, bewilderingly numerous and complex. But when we come to construct, it will be found that in synthesis the distracting number of small parts will disappear, to coalesce and form the few main principles on which either a sermon or a watch is built. These principles are essential to every discourse, no matter how brief. As the humble seven-and-sixpenny "Waterbury" requires its springs and levers equally with the hundred-guinea "repeater," so the twenty minutes' sermon, to be effective, must have a fixed plan and definite sequence as well as the more ambitious effort.

Most of these chapters were written originally for the "Mungret Annual," with a view to assist the apostolic students who are now, as priests, rendering such splendid service to the Church of God abroad. And it was the very generous reception accorded the articles in the ecclesiastical colleges that suggested the idea of presenting them in the more lasting form of a book.

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