Homily for the feast of St Agnes, Jan 21


I attended the children’s Mass in a neighboring parish, which was a beautifully sung liturgy.

The homily by Fr. Bert Gohm (from a neighboring city) was very touching. It sounds like a story that has made the rounds, but I had never heard it.

He tells of a girl who was born with a cleft palate. (We know today this is often the result of poor maternal nutrition, if I’m not mistaken; I know of a guy older than me who suffered like the girl of this story). This was in the 1950’s and, as the story goes, there wasn’t a lot doctors could do about this condition. (I’m not sure when surgical repairs came along; the man I knew had surgery but with only partial success in remedying his speech. Anyway…)

The girl was not popular and the children made fun of her because of her appearance and her difficulty speaking. When asked, the girl said that she fell on some broken glass and injured herself.

In those days, there were hearing tests in the schools, but they were primitive. The student would stand outside the classroom with the door closed. The teacher would say or whisper something and the student was supposed to repeat it.

When it came time for the girl’s hearing test, she had just one good ear, as it turns out also. But, “Mrs. Leonard” the teacher tested her by saying “I wish you were my little girl.” No one had ever spoken so nicely to the girl.

And, then, taking this story up a notch, Fr. Gohm said that this is what Jesus is saying to each of us (boy, girl, woman, man, as the case may be).

Most of the daily homilies I hear are throwaways. But, this is a very touching story.

God bless you.


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