Father Thomas McLaoch, aka "Father Mac"

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Thomas McLaoch was an only child in a happy and wealthy family in the Chicago suburbs. His father, Michael, was a doctor and his mother, Ruth, was a chemist. After high school, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a surgeon. While attending Elmhurst College for a pre-medical Bachelor’s program, he met the woman of his dreams, Angela Matthews. Unfortunately, after attaining their preprofessional degrees they were forced to part ways. They went to different medical schools. He chose to remain in Illinois, and they were unable to keep in touch. While in medschool, Thomas had an unexpected calling into God’s service. He had never been particularly religious, his family never went to church, nor did they really discuss the existence of God, yet he felt compelled to attend seminary. His father was not pleased, but accepted his decision. Thomas became a priest, took his vow of celibacy and began working for the Arch-Diocese in Rockford with Father Grady.

Father Grady was a kind man, and Thomas quickly took a liking to him. Eventually Grady was promoted to Bishop, and was transferred to St. Martin’s Cathedral in Chicago. Thomas followed him. Father Grady was an inspiration, and a second father to him, especially after Thomas’s father passed away, which was a very difficult and dark time in his life. The parishioners took to calling Thomas “Father Mac.” One day, while preaching to the congregation, Father Mac saw a familiar face in the crowd; Angela Matthews. After the sermon, they talked for hours. She was doing well, had never married, and was a successful pediatrician. They began to meet for lunch regularly, and eventually she invited him to her house for dinner. Things went… differently than expected. Emotions that had been hidden inside for the last few years spilled back out. Father Mac ended up breaking his vow of celibacy. She said it was a mistake and that it never should have happened. He was confused. He had no idea what to do. He began to contemplate leaving the church, but how could he? It was all he had, and how could he bring it up to Father Grady, whom he so admired? He let it go, pretended as though it had never happened. That was when he began to notice the corruption in the diocese.

He had always heard the stories of priests performing carnal acts with younger members of their churches, but had never really believed they could be true. That was, until the pictures were discovered on Father Tanner’s hard drive. The diocese greased a few palms though, it all went away, and Father Tanner was free to do as he pleased. Father Mac knew that this was unacceptable. He felt an overwhelming need for revenge. He wanted to kill this man. He was angry at Father Tanner, at the Archbishop, at God Himself for what had happened. How could He allow this atrocity to happen? Was He even there? Had He turned His back on the world? Father Mac knew that these thoughts were sins. He had every intention of confessing them to Father Grady, and asking the Lord’s forgiveness, when Father Grady was brutally murdered. That was the moment he realized that there could be no salvation for him. Perhaps there was no God, and everything he had become meant nothing. It was still another couple of weeks before the night in the confessional.

What reason could someone have to murder a priest, a man as kind and caring as Father Grady? And in such a violent manner, too. They didn’t even take his wallet, or ANY of his possessions for that matter. What kind of “loving God” could exist in a world as horrible as this? Father Mac has given up. He takes the pistol from the box in Father Grady’s office. He should have carried it with him, he thinks, but he knows what they say about hindsight. They’ll find him tomorrow evening, before the mass. They’ll wonder how a “man of God” could have come to this end, voluntarily throwing away the gift of life like this. He walks into the confessional booth, closes the door behind him and sits down. He doesn’t even say a final prayer. He knows nobody is listening. What was that? A creak… the main door of the church. He had been meaning to oil the hinges, but never got around to it. He keeps the barrel held tight against his temple, and hears the shot go off, bang! Wait, is this all there is? For a few seconds, he is surprised. He thought for sure he would feel something as the bullet tore through his brain. No, wait… footsteps now. Then he didn’t pull the trigger. The heavy door. It the empty church, it was loud when it slammed shut, much louder than normal. He almost lets out a sigh of relief, and then the door to the booth beside him opens. Is this person crying? It sounds like they are crying. Father Mac brings the revolver down, holding it in his lap, and begins repeating the motions he has repeated time and time again, the words and actions that have no meaning to him any longer. “Il nominé Patri, et Fili, et Spiritu Sancté,” as he crosses himself with the hand holding the revolver, “What is troubling you, my son?” “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned,” says a boy’s voice through his tears, no more than 15 years old, the kind of voice that some of his less-than-pure brethren might find interest in, “and I’m afraid… afraid that it will only get worse…”

Father Thomas McLaoch, aka "Father Mac"

Strange Bedfellows DHaskell2010