What is the worst disease known to mankind? It is a disease known as leprosy. Who knows the name of the place where lepers are taken care of? Some of the older children may know it. Molokai. Here is a story you may like. During the Civil War there was a lieutenant in the Union army named Joseph Dutton. He was known as the handsomest, the bravest, and the best officer in the army. Lieutenant Dutton had an orderly, and old man whom the soldiers had nicknamed Old Man Reilly. Old Man Reilly was to have a great effect on the life of Lieutenant Dutton. One day Dutton asked old man Reilly a question. The answer he got to it changed his whole life. The lieutenant asked his orderly, "You have been with me for some years. In that time none of my things have ever been stolen. What makes you so honest?" Old Man Reilly replied, "I am a Catholic and the teachings of the Catholic Church is that if you steal anything, you have to give it back. So what's the use of stealing?" Dutton was very much impressed with this and had many a chat with Old Man Reilly after that. The result of it all was that years later he became a Catholic. But the story does not end there. Many years later the newspaper headlines read as follows; "The death of Father Damien of Molokai leaves open a place among the lepers which will be filled by Brother Joseph Dutton, formerly of the United States Army." That shows how far good example of Old Man Reilly, Joseph Dutton went of to Molokai to care for the lepers. The good example of an old man reached from the army to Molokai. You can never tell how far your example will go. Each little act you do becomes very important because it may set the examples to others. Your duty to set good example crops up many times during the day. It may be just a case of showing you brothers and sisters how to obey your parents, a case of showing that you are not too busy to step aside and visit the Blessed Sacrament on the way home from school. The very fact that you are going to church on Sunday morning means that you are setting an example to those who see you. Everything you do is setting an example, good or bad. That is why you have to be so careful. Perhaps some little act of yours may be the cause of a great act in someone else, just as the honest of Old Man Reilly was the cause of Lieutenant Dutton's heroism. When Theodore Roosevelt was making a tour around the world, he stopped in front of the island of Molokai and fired a salvo of guns to honor Brother Joseph Dutton. Hero that Brother Dutton was to the brave the perils of leprosy, he would not hesitate to give credit to Old Man Reilly for his good example. While people praise Brother Dutton, don't you think it is a shame that so few words of praise are found for the man who inspired him? That is shy we chose to speak this morning about a forgotten person, and old man honest as the day, as good as gold, who inspired Brother Dutton's deeds of greatness- Old Man Reilly.
- Heavenwords, Imprimatur 1947 -