Jokes priests can tell: A definitive anthology

Thursday 14 May 2015 — Homeport: Falmouth Harbor- Ascension Day

At this time of year, dear readers, clergy of all denominations find themselves constantly called upon to “say a few words” at banquets, award presentations, and year-end gatherings of every sort. Usually this includes some oratorical device to first get people’s attention (after you check that the microphone is working). It can take many years to collect appropriate comments for such occasions. What’s a young priest to do? My young associate, Father Peter John, alerted me to this troubling situation. In the service of priests and deacons everywhere, I have gathered this collection of hilarious all-occasion jokes priests can tell (and anyone else who dares to take the risk). 

— One Saturday afternoon, the old pastor tripped and fell down the steps. He was rushed to the hospital. Shortly thereafter, at Mass, the curate announced, “My dear people, you may have noticed the ambulance at the rectory. Unfortunately, our pastor fell and whacked his head. Not to worry, though. The emergency room doctor X-rayed the pastor’s brain and found nothing at all.”

— One day, an old monsignor was driving carefully down the road when he was pulled over by a state trooper. “Father,” said the trooper, “you’re driving too slowly. You’re creating a traffic hazard.” “Nonsense, young man,” said the monsignor. “I obey all traffic laws scrupulously. Look, right there. The sign clearly says the speed limit is 24 miles per hour.” “Ah, Father, that’s not the speed limit. That’s the route number.” “Oh,” answered the monsignor, “that explains why I got such dirty looks on Route 195.”

— A young curate was having difficulty keeping people’s attention during his homily. He asked the pastor for advice. “Begin your sermon with a statement that will get people’s attention and take it from there,” suggested the pastor. “What kind of statement?” asked the rookie priest. “Well, if I was going to preach on the Blessed Mother, I might begin with ‘My dear people, I am in love with a beautiful woman — and her name is Mary.’” So the next Sunday, the curate went to the pulpit and announced, “My dear people, the pastor informs me that he is in love with a beautiful woman — but for the life of me I just can’t remember her name at the moment.”

— The pope was on a whirlwind visit to the United States. He was on his way to the United Nations but his driver was unfamiliar with the streets of New York. Frustrated, the pope said to the driver, “We’ll never get there at this rate. Look, let me drive. You get in the back seat. So the two exchange places and the pope drove like a bat out of Heaven through the city. Well, don’t you know, the limousine got pulled over for speeding. The officer was confused by the situation and radioed his commanding officer for instructions. “I’ve pulled over some bigwig in a limousine. What to do?” “Well,” asked the lieutenant, “who is this VIP?” “Don’t know,” came the answer, “but he must be very important. The pope himself is his chauffeur.”

— Did you hear the one about the $100 bill and the $1 bill? One night, they found themselves next to each other in a bank vault. The $1 bill asked the $100 bill, “So, what have you been up to?” The $100 bill answered “My life has been fabulous — casinos, luxury cruises, five star hotels, Broadway shows. And what about you?” The $1 bill answered, “It’s always the same – church, church, church.” 

— A priest, a minster, and a rabbi met for lunch. In the course of the conversation, they discovered that they all had problems with bats in their respective houses of worship. They decided they were going to have a prayer contest to see who could drive out the bats. One week later, they again met for lunch. “I recited an ancient Hebrew prayer to drive out bats. It didn’t work,” reported the rabbi. The minister said, “Well, I gave a long and dramatic prayer to exorcise the bats. That didn’t work either.” “I got rid of my bats,” the priest announced smugly. “How did you do that?” asked the other two clergymen in astonishment. “Simple,” said the priest. “I just confirmed them. Now I’ll never see them in church again.”

— Stop me if you know this one. The bishop heard that one of his priests had taken up skydiving and called him on the carpet. “Father, have you any idea how dangerous skydiving is? Why would you ever take up skydiving?” “Well, bishop,” answered the priest. “I feel so close to Heaven up there.” “Father, you may feel close to Heaven,” retorted the bishop, “but you’re definitely headed in the wrong direction!”

As my housemate Father Frank Wallace (FXW) always says, “I wonder how anyone can get by in the priesthood these days without a sense of humor.” All joking aside, he should know. He’s in his 94th year.  

Anchor columnist Father Goldrick is pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Falmouth.

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