By Andrew Hunter
From The Universe dated June 29 2997
He once raised £750 for a mission to India, and collected literally
thousands of pounds during the five years he spent taking the offertory
during Mass at a Lanarkshire hospital.
Now retired from active church duties – although he still wears the
dog-collar – a kiddies column in the local parish magazine has been
dedicated to him.
He is Sean, the 14-year old black Labrador, affectionately known to
his many friends as “the canine curate of Coatbridge”.
As the loyal friend and assistant of his master, Fr Eamonn Sweeney,
52, parish priest of St Patrick’s, Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, Sean still
attends Sunday Mass and even has his own ‘prayer mat’ in front of the
lectern, where he can meditate in peace.
Since Sean is now blind, and is beginning to suffer with arthritis,
the mat has become essential, but his sense of duty is still strong
enough for him to lead the priest and altar servers in procession from
the sanctuary at the end of Mass.
Fr Sweeney said: “He is a remarkable dog and has been so popular at
every parish I’ve served. When I was chaplain at Law Hospital, Wishaw,
Lanarkshire, he used to take the offertory. The people there wouldn’t
have had it any other way, they loved him so much.”
Pretty soon news of the dog who carried the collection plate in his
jaws reached . . . India!
A Catholic priest there, Fr Thomas Thumpailchirayil, was so impressed
by what he had heard of Sean, that he wrote to Fr Sweeney asking if his
four-legged friend would take a collection for him to build much-needed
facilities for a mission station in India. The response was a staggering
£750 taken at just one go.
Fr Sweeney added: “At one time Sean knew all the responses at Mass.
He would stand and sit at the correct times, and has hardly missed a
Sunday Mass in his life.”
Now, apart from having his own column in St Patrick’s newsletter,
aimed at children, Sean’s activities are limited to that of assistant DJ
at discos held in the church hall.
Reproduced with thanks.
Return to Articles