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Diary of a Ghetto Priest: The Ghetto Comedian
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In the ghetto, there is so much comedy. Yesterday at Good Shepherd, after lunch, I sat with two, then three, suddenly there were seven of our homeless and myself sitting around in a circle. Donovan, a little dwarf, now 25 years with us, about 45 years old, 4 feet tall sat in his wheelchair bright eyed and bushy tailed charming everyone with his harmonica, playing “Onward Christian Soldier.” Afterwards everyone clapped. Donovan is a natural comedian (?); he thrust out his shoulders and boastfully gave a broad grin on his round face. “Clap me again! Don’t I deserve another clap? All the old men, the retarded, and even the mentally ill gave him a thunderous clap. He took a bow and began to pray with hands clasped and eyes closed. “Father in heaven, I give thanks for my wonderful talents. No! My wonderful, superaladocious talents. God has given me. My shortness as a dwarf, the friends I have at Good Shepherd, the food I eat each day; the goodness of the brothers, my extraordinary intelligence, and needless to say my handsomeness. Though I am a dwarf Lord, everyone finds I am cute. Thank God for my cuteness Lord. Though I am small, I also have great authority. Thank you for the gift of authority you have given me.”
The other Down-syndrome men, the cripples, and even the mentally ill began to laugh and cackle. “I am boss around here. So just respect me while I pray to my God. Do what I tell you.” They continued to laugh and say “shut up now Donavan.”
“I have a second in charge! Wayne is my second in charge. He is very intelligent. But not so intelligent as me! He will tell you your assignment after lunch. You Lewis and Courtney – go clean the toilets. You, Tony sweep the floor, you Carlton wash the clothes. And it must be very, very, very clean.” God help you if you don’t do your jobs properly!”
Then we sat around and had to pretend great respect for Donovan’s authority. “Father, since you are here I want to announce my plans for next year.” Everyone suddenly listened attentively. “Please tell me Father, if this doesn’t sound very intelligent to you.”
“I am now 45 years old. I decided to get married!” All the residents became very interested and murmured in sounds that only they alone could understand, and everyone knows here it is again Donovan with his stories and dreams:
“I want to get married to a young, pretty girl. Better she be pretty than ugly.” Everyone agreed that that was sensible and wise. I asked Donovan “but what if she doesn’t want to marry you?” “Then she would be a fool. Since I am so handsome and charming and wise.” Everyone clapped Donovan for his wisdom. Some began to boo Donovan however “Nobody young and pretty would even want to marry you!”
“Then if no one wants to marry me. I’ll marry an old woman. But she has to be rich!” At this point everyone began to laugh loudly. “But I will give all the riches of my wife to the poor of Jacob’s Well!” At this point he had everyone in rapt silence.
Then Donovan began to close the session with a prayer and a song “What a friend I have in Jesus, all my sins and griefs he bears.” All began to say prayers and bring hymns, and thanked God for a lovely day and fellowship. I gave thanks to God for the poor, and felt that the poor are indeed rich so full of humour!