Having been a priest for several years, I have from time to time come up with interesting quotes from different sources. Some of these quotes may seem familiar to some of you, since you may have encountered the persons who uttered them. Other quotes are peculiar to certain parishes or locations I have been. So, what are these quotes I am referring to? Well, here they are, in no particular order:
1. I recall a professor in College General Penang who once remarked: “You know, when it comes to the religious, they belong to a certain religious order. For example, the Jesuits are known as the Society of Jesus, or SJ in short. The Carmelites are known as OCD, or Order of Carmelites Discalced. Whereas priests who come under a particular Diocese or Archdiocese are known as OOO. Do you know what OOO means?” Many of us cracked our heads trying to figure out what the initials meant. Then the professor said with a smirk: “It means Out of Order. Since Diocesans do not belong to a particular religious order, they are therefore “Out of Order,” Of course, the professor said this as a joke, and in reality, Diocesans do not have any initials after their name.
2. An "ah pek" (usually meaning an older uncle in Hokkien) saying to some young men at church in a cheeky and questioning tone: "So you come to church to pray or to prey ah?" Naturally, this "ah pek" must have seen some "paktorlogy" attempts going on for quite a bit, which caused him to utter this. “Paktorlogy” here refers to efforts by a man and a woman to date for a certain period, with hopes of eventually leading to a proposal, a wedding and married life. This is where the term “earning a degree in ‘Paktorlogy’” comes from, where such a degree is attained when the marriage materialises.
3. In a certain gambling institution, which happens to have a chapel, a padre commented: "So aaa... I hope you come to pray first and play later aaa." Apparently, this comment seems to work, since I too used it during my stint there as parish priest, and quite a sizable crowd came to the chapel for Mass, possibly hoping for some blessings so that they would stand a better chance in winning in the gambling games.
4. Again, in a certain gambling institution which happens to have a chapel near the carpark on the lower floor, whereas the gambling area is at the upper floors, a padre remarked: "Welcome! Here downstairs you are at God's city, upstairs is sin city." This chapel had been in existence from the 1970s and it was a gift from the management for Catholic employees to attend Mass and for other religious activities. Next to the chapel was a Buddhist prayer room next to that was a Pentecostal prayer room. A mosque had also been built at a different location some time back.
5. A jovial and elderly padre was driving, and I was seated at the passenger seat. Coming upon a big lorry in front of him, he remarked: "Oh oh! We better find a way to overtake this big buffalo, or else we will be stuck." This elderly padre had lots of other jokes and anecdotes up his sleeves, and I enjoyed the many conversations I had with him during my time with him.
6. A padre who I was accompanying to a rural area for Mass remarked: "When you drive on this road aaa, you need to watch out for long thing, big thing, small thing and hard to see thing." I was puzzled what he meant and asked him. Here was his explanation:
a. Long thing: snake, iguana, biawak
b. Big thing: lorries, buffaloes, cows, other large animals or objects
c. Small thing: people or animals, especially the younger ones that may be at the side of the road or playing near the road.
d. Hard to see thing: Motorbikes, especially at night, where some motorbikes do not have sufficient lights on or lack enough reflective strips
7. A monsignor, who is now retired and residing in a famous place which has a name that happens to be the patron saint of tools and carpentry, likes to end a life experience with a remark, “That’s the story of our lives.” And the response to that remark is: “And we’ll drink to that!” He said this in jest, not to take life seriously, and enjoy each other’s company with a glass of wine. Incidentally, the name of the place he is residing is called Sentul, which sounds like “Saint Tool.”