Catholic Register Books launches Fr. Raby book

  • November 6, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - When Carmel Joyce heard that a collection of columns from “The Little World of Fr. Raby” were to be revived in book form, she immediately remembered the rectory washing machine.

Joyce, now 84, was a devoted reader and faithful housekeeper to Msgr. Tom Raby for many decades. Among the many humourous  Raby columns she enjoyed over the years, she recalls one in which she confronted a man selling her a new washing machine. He told Joyce that he used to attend Mass, but stopped, prompting the devout housekeeper to launch into a “real sermon” that ended when he promised to return to church.

To Joyce’s surprise, the scene was replayed with typical Raby humour in a column that told how a shopping trip became a missionary expedition.

These and 80 other stories of wit and wisdom have been reprised in a new book by Msgr. Raby titled: The Little World of Fr. Raby, 1980-2007. As long-time readers will recognize, the title is taken from the name of the popular column that graced these pages for almost 50 years.

It was a difficult task to select just 81 columns but a pure delight to be the editor of the book, said Mickey Conlon, The Register’s Managing Editor.

“I had the pleasure of reading more than 1,000 columns,” Conlon said. “Whittling the list down  to 81 was the real challenge.”

Raby, 91 and living in poor health in Kingston since retiring his column in 2007, started writing for The Register in 1950 and launched “The Little World of Fr. Raby” a decade later. His folksy tales of parish life were an instant hit. Following successful books in the mid- and late-1970s that showcased the early years of his columns, this latest book is the long overdue final instalment of the charming stories that brought Raby legions of fans.

“Readers can expect what they always did when Fr. Raby wrote his column — an insightful look into the topics of the day, parish life and his relationships with friends,” said Conlon.

Forced to select his favourite column, Conlon went with one from the golf course titled “Summer miracle!” In it, Raby needs to sink a 60-foot putt on the final hole to win the match. His opponent, Fr. Ed Keyes, offered him $100 if he sank it. Of course, the putt went it, but when Raby confessed he’d said a silent prayer as he stood over the ball, Keyes laughingly refused to pay because Raby had relied on “divine intervention.”

Although the column was light-hearted, it concluded with a message about the power of prayer. That was typical of Raby, concluding each story with a moral that left readers thinking.

“You forget how much you missed Fr. Raby’s columns and how you looked forward to reading them,” Conlon said. “And looking back over almost 30 years of columns, you realize just how Fr. Raby had his finger on the pulse of the church and society.”


The Little World of Fr. Raby, 1980-2007

Copies can also be ordered by calling (416) 934-3410

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.