Day Off: Goodbye Holy Souls Hermitage: Keys of the Kingdom handed over.

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After doing the usual thing of providing the sacraments across Western North Carolina with hundreds of miles put on Sassy the Subaru, I arrived at the hermitage, where there was blinding fog. That’s the way it was, 24/7 non-stop, for months on end, when I first arrived years previous. The area is classified officially as a rain forest, having, in fact, twice the average rain fall as a rain forest.

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I handed the key over. Apparently, a buyer has appeared and wants the key, entirely enthralled with the hermitage. So, I gave over the key:


Of course, this means no gun range either. I dismantled the bits and pieces I had there. This was was already gone:

That one above, starting with the far bucket: ABCBA low ready three seconds. The one below is to be shot in half. This is with 9mm FMJ which goes right through without snapping it, meaning it takes quite a few hits in the same spot to get it done, with each hit keeping the movement going. This is 1″ x 1″ by three feet.

All things you can’t do at a National Forest range or even LEO range. All gone. Now where am I going to get some firearms recreation?

I had to say goodbye to “The Barn” that was a home for this Donkey-Priest until I got the hermitage built enough to keep out some weather:

The window space had been set up as a gorgeous ad orientem altar. I used to sleep on the floor behind where you see the live trap for the raccoons and the mason jar boxes. I’m a bit rough and tumble. I got a picture also of a bit of yellow-jacket nest, as that brings back memories of just how bad they were, a plague really. Within some weeks that year, I killed some 135 queen yellow-jackets (which represents untold numbers of furiously stinging workers). It was the Violin Spiders I didn’t like. I was bit some 25 times through the years but had an ingenious way (thanks to the neighbor) to get rid of the poison and heal the rotting wound before any amputations had to be done.

None of that put me off in the least. I told Jesus I wanted to be a hermit for a while so as to write about His good mom. He arranged everything within hours. I did write on Jesus’ good mom. I’m very happy with that result. But that doesn’t mean Jesus was going to make it easy. I’m sure, though, that He directed my guardian angel to make the extra effort so that I wouldn’t actually get killed despite for all the dangers I would encounter in building the hermitage, in getting shot at, in somersaulting down little cliffs with a running chain saw in hand, on and on. The memories.


I collected a bunch of rocks from the path up to the hermitage so as to make a little grotto for our Lady, kind of a reminder of my time in Lourdes, but also as a reminder of where I had been going at the time, to become a chaplain at the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, also teaching at the Franciscanum in the Old City, and then heading up their pilgrimage site on Mount Nebo in Jordan way above the far side of the Dead Sea. The bishop told me to make the hermitage my Holy Sepulcher to pray for priests. Great memories, all.

After all was said and done, and the very second I got back to the rectory, texting messages started to make my phone sing. It was late in the evening, and the town board was in the midst of conducting a closed meeting with yours truly being on the agenda. A unanimous decision was made about the fate of this donkey priest in time to come. I am humbled. More on that later.

All this happened January 14, 2020, the long standing Feast of Jackasses. I like that a lot. More on that later.


Filed under Father Byers Autobiography

5 responses to “Day Off: Goodbye Holy Souls Hermitage: Keys of the Kingdom handed over.

  1. God bless all donkeys. They are the BEST!!

  2. Aussie Mum

    Our Lord closes one door and opens another.

  3. elizdelphi

    This is poignant… I loved the hermitage. But it was precious because you were there. You’re what’s valuable. And you’re valuable because Jesus is in you.

  4. sanfelipe007

    Time to find a new place for your “pastoral rounds.” 😉

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