National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

A message from Zoe Ryan

The Saga of a Visiting Sparrow

 |  NCR Today

As St. Pancras Church in Glendale, New York, welcomed a large congregation for the Feb. 2 celebration of Jesus‘s being Presented in the Temple, the story of his parents’ presentation of a pair of turtle doves was in competition with the errant sparrow that had presented itself on Friday to all worshipers and visitors and hadn’t a clue how to find its way back out to the world of sky and nourishment.  Instead, by Sunday’s liturgies, the tiny creature, used to eating twice its weight each day, was very hungry.  It soared to the ceiling and then over heads of the congregation until alighting on candles, microphone and crucifix, it was drawn to the artificial Christmas decorations wreathed around the altar candles.  It plucked in vain at the phony red berries.  Its desperation was the congregation’s entertainment. Poor thing!

This true story could serve as a metaphor, I suppose, of the many people who wander into our churches, into our families, into our lives, not quite sure of how or why, but who claim our attention and concern.

Back in our real world, I took it on myself to contact the A.S.P.C.A. which referred me to the Wild Bird Fund, which is closed on Sundays.

"I love the NCR's determination and tenacity in telling the truth of the church's reality today. It gives me hope. It gives voice to my concerns."

-NCR Reader
Sylvia Melrose


I called Msgr. Greg Wielunski a little after one o’clock to let him know I was awaiting a call back from the Wild Bird Fund.  No need for that, I learned.  He and parishioner, Patrick Fahy, had successfully trapped the bird in the sacristy and with the aid of a broom, coaxed it to and out a window.

I don’t know if instruction for freeing birds is in the Pastor’s Handbook, but this pastor’s persistence served as inspiration for me.

Enjoy this article?
Help support more like it by donating today!

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.


NCR Webathon 2016: One Family

NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

May 6-19, 2016


Some articles are only available in the print newspaper and Kindle edition.