By Shane Cochrane

If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call?
Well, if you’re Irish, you’re probably gonna call a priest. But what if the ghost is a priest?

Because, while they may be quite rare, there are phantom priests, and their stories are some of the strangest – and saddest – tales you’re likely to hear.

During a Mass for a recently deceased priest in the Pennsylvania town of Latroube, in April 1860, the deceased priest appeared before the altar and began to speak.
He told the congregation they were wasting their time praying to get him out of Purgatory. They were wasting their time because he wasn’t in Purgatory. “There is no such place,” he cried.

There are only “two places of future existence,” according to the ghostly priest’s impromptu sermon: one of perpetual bliss and one of perpetual punishment. “Only two priests ever got to Heaven”, he said, “and I’m not one of them.’
And, after telling the shocked congregation that any Mass for the repose of his soul was useless, he disappeared.

Not all phantom priests are this dramatic. Some are subtler, like the one that haunted Father Hubert in 1905.

One night, not long after he had moved into the Passionist Monastery in Ardoyne, Belfast, Father Hubert was woken by a knock on his door. When he answered it, he was surprised to find a ghost: not any ghost, but the ghost of a friend, a man who had also been a Passionist priest.

Each night after that, the ghost woke Father Hubert by knocking on his door. Eventually, Hubert got up the courage to confront the ghost and ask it what it wanted.
The ghost’s request was very simple. It wanted Father Hubert to pray for him, like he had promised him when he was alive, and which he had so far failed to do.
From that night on, Father Hubert prayed for his friend’s soul. And from that night on, his ghostly friend left him alone.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own