For his silver jubilee as a priest almost a decade ago, Franciscan Fr Ed Mundwiller prayed for God to keep calling him beyond the boundaries of his own comfort zone, into places he never thought he would go.
“The old ‘normal’ and the old certainties go away, and God fills in the void with a call to justice and decency,” he said in a 2007 interview with The Catholic Missourian, newspaper of the Diocese of Jefferson City in central Missouri.
Fr Mundwiller, who goes by “Friar Ed,” believes that is exactly what happened while he was walking in his St Louis neighbourhood the afternoon of February 2.
He spoke briefly with a teenager and gave him a dollar. The teen followed him into an alley and attacked him, pummelling his face and breaking his leg while trying to get his wallet.
Friar Ed was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was treated and released pending surgery to mend a fractured bone.
“We all have our days,” he said in a telephone interview last week. “Some days, we’re the hammer; some days, we’re the thumb.”
His doctor said he’ll probably need “a little hardware” in his knee and won’t be able to put weight on it for about three months.
Friar Ed, a native of Gasconade County in the Jefferson City Diocese, said this was the only time anything like this has happened to him in the 15 years he’s been part of the Franciscan community at St Anthony of Padua Friary in South St Louis.
“I guess it was a bad day for me, but not just for me,” he said. “I came into contact with a young man who needed some money. We all know young people who need some money.”
“As a repentant, I don’t think I’m better than anyone else,” he added.
Family and friends have been sending him gifts and more cards than he’s been able to open all at once.
Some friends at St Augustine Parish in North St Louis, where Friar Ed occasionally fills in for Mass, sent him some snacks and beverages in time for the Super Bowl.
A lifelong aficionado of English folklore and the legend of Robin Hood and friends, Friar Ed occasionally wonders out loud, “What would Friar Tuck do?”
In this situation, “he’d probably be out looking for that guy to get him to join his merry band of outlaws!” said Friar Ed.
The priest asserted that there are criminals in low places and criminals in high places — the ones who perpetuate inequitable conditions, keeping people in low places from moving up.
“The ones in high places – they’re the ones Friar Tuck would be worried about,” he said.
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