Poor Arno. It had been a frantic kind of day, and he had invited us for tea. The protestant clergy family and a friend, and a family from his own parish. Kids everywhere.
Despite the hard day he had begun preparation of an enormous array of pizza. Trays were spread across the big presbytery kitchen surrounded by bowls of pineapple, shredded ham, mozzarella, and other goodies. After introductions Arno began taking orders, spreading pineapple, and generally directing operations. And as always seems to happen at a clergy house at mealtimes, the door bell rang.
Arno re-appeared in the kitchen, flustered and apologetic. "Eugene hasn't come back from Adelaide, and there's half a church-full of people waiting for Mass. I'm so sorry- I'll have to fill in and say Mass for them. Keep cooking and I'll get back when I can." He rubbed his hands vigorously on a tea towel and raced out.
We waited for Arno, so tea was a little late. Perhaps this was why one of the younger children was restless and noisy and embarrassing her parents at the table. But Arno was relaxed now. "Don't worry," he said. "It's nothing. Why- one night, when Father Steve was here, a toddler clambered out of its high chair and crawled right down the table! The parents were mortified. But Father Steve was determined to put them at ease, so he crawled right down the table after him and brought him back!"
"Is that why they shifted him to P.? For punishment," I laughed? Arno gave me his best mock serious look. "That's right. They only have a very short dining table down there!"
"Well, at least he never took Mass in the middle of pizza,'' someone else said. Arno grinned. "The funniest bit was... there I am, holding the Host up high, and suddenly... all I can smell is pineapple!"
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