Monday, 22 January 2018



His name was Stephen Millington who was originally from Capetown in South Africa. 


I did not know Stephen really well - or indeed for a very long time. I met him through another friend who used to live in Newry.

Stephen's principal addiction was alcohol - but he also experimented from time to time with cannabis and cocaine. 

A week or so ago he was drinking with some friends in his flat in Newry and one of the others offered him heroin. 

As soon as it was injected, Stephen collapsed, went blue and died.

We cannot say much more about the details of his death as the police are involved and some people are already remanded in prison pending the outcome of the investigation.

But what we can say is that Stephen's death was tragic, avoidable and a sad waste of talent and life.

In South Africa, he had run a very successful property business and was a highly regarded surfer.


I only met Stephen on a few occasions and sadly on those occasions, he had taken a lot of alcohol.

But he could hold his alcohol and on the last time we met at an Oratory meeting in Belfast I encouraged him to speak about his pain and vulnerability.

He said very little but his large dark eyes filled with tears and through those eyes, I could see right into his soul. He was clearly in great personal pain and was probably aware of the wonderful gifts and life he had and was squandering. 

Don't get me wrong. He was not pitiful. He was a tall, well built, handsome man and he had retained a lot of his dignity - but that dignity had been undermined by his out of control addiction. 

I had hopes that he might one day overcome his addiction mountain. That was not to be. 

He had been born a Catholic and so during the week I celebrated a requiem Mass for him in the chapel of the Brothers of The Oratory just outside Larne. 

In my 42 years of priesthood, I have very often had the opportunity to minister to people with addictions. 

My attempts to help have sometimes been wonderfully successful. At other times I failed completely.

My failure had nothing to do with my efforts. It had to do with the addicted people themselves.

Unless an addict is willing to take help and do their part in their detox and rehabilitation outside love and support is pointless. 

"You can bring a horse to water but you cannot make him drink".

And, please, believe me, I do not underestimate the massive struggle any man or woman has on their hands in beating their addiction. But if they do not play their part the whole effort becomes pointless.

Currently, I am trying to help two friends of mine tackle their addiction to alcohol.

I have been trying so hard with these two friends for four or five months that, at present, I feel a bit exhausted.

They are both very intelligent, very good and spiritual people. 

But, for various reasons, they are resisting the road to recovery. I am not surprised at this. Alcohol has a very strong hold - even and especially over good people. 

I am praying. I am hoping. I am doing all I can. But they must do their vital bit.

My big fear is that they will suffer, in different ways, the fate of poor Stephen above. 

Can I ask blog readers, who believe and pray, to pray for me and my friends?

I know those of you who do not believe, will wish me - and more importantly them - well!



                  The Man In The Glass 

                     Peter Dale Wimbrow Sr.  

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest
For he’s with you, clear to the end
And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass. 


  1. Pat, there is a Latin Maxim. "Nemo dat quod non habet" which translates as : You can't give what you haven't got.
    The idea that you can help struggling alcoholics is laughable, send them to qualified people for Gods sake, you idiot.

    1. I ALWAYS refer people to the professionals and to the AA.

    2. May God bless you for your steadfast compassion. In your loyalty to the person, I see the face of Christ himself.

      To those who would mock this:✌

    3. I agree with 00.51. Unless you are a qualified therapist/counsellor in the area of adfiction, you should refer people to professional centres, like Sr. Consilio's Cuan Mhuire. Six months ago I managed to persuade a friend to go to Cuan Mhuire in Athy and her time there was very successful. It is a life ling task for her now but step by step progress is being made. I have been blessed to help other people to take similar decisions. Unless we are qualified to deal with the nature and illness of adfiction, we should always refer individuals to the professionals while remaining friends with them. Recently too I referred individuals to Pieta House and to the Rutland Centre for treatment and counselling. I can only do so much but when the problems and illness are so pervasive, on-going and leading to self destruction, then we have a duty of care to accompany such people to professional centres. Otherwise we can prolong their inner pain by our lack of professional training. We should never play psychology with wounded people. While you are well intentioned Pat, there are other ootions we should give people with addictions. I will keep your friend who is battling his addictions in prayer and pray too for your friend Stephen that he will be at rest in the radiance of God's presence.

    4. @00.51
      Your comment is ignorant. A kind set of ears with a good referral and an honest prayer is good ministry. 0.51 is refelective of the abdication of ministry evident is too many quarters of the Church.

    5. I think Sr. Concilio and Cuan Mhuire have done Trojan work over the years.

      There is a wonderful rehab centre in Belfast called Carlisle House.

      As I say I always refer people to the professions and to Alchoholics Anonymous.

      But as a priest I can also listen, support, visit a d pray.

      Alcoholicism is such a complex illness everything positive helps.

    6. Combine alcoholism with sex addiction and you can imagine the problems the bishops are faced with on a seemingly regular basis.

    7. Detox and Rehab will address these matters together.

      There is also SA- Sex Anonymous, who do good work.

    8. Mags at 01:26 - you gave the Victory sign to “those who would mock this” and the “two-finger salute” to yourself! ROFL.

    9. If you studied Latin, and was one of the lucky ones getting possibly 3 rd level education, you sure letting yourself down in the above post.
      The naive gullible people prob donated their money towards it too.00.51
      And also no one can send anyone anywhere, addicted people have to want to go for themselves.
      Pat is there and is a good listener and can be very knowledgable as to where the help is.
      So wind your neck in......

    10. I wish I was a sex addict. I don't get enough at home.

  2. Once the drink takes hold life becomes very very hard and it's one of the worst ways to die. I think they do good work in Cuan Mhuire. But as you say, Pat, it can only work when the addict wants the addiction to end.

  3. Addiction is a strange one. I believe it is linked to other issues and perhaps family history. Fr Jack liked his drink and was a great laugh. I wonder if there was something in priestly life that kept this fictional Padre drinking. I often wonder if I stayed in Ireland would I be an active alcoholic. In the past I could not see any avenues of escape and freedom from opressive real and imagined. UK provided me with negative and positive choices. I hope I eventually chose positive and will continue to do so. What makes one stop drinking or using or gambling to excess? I believe it is the grace of God and knowing one is worth saving. Of course professional help and supportive environments are also important. Some people may choose the path of distruction. That is their choice and is part of being human too. All we can do is watch encourage and pray

    1. There is something in priestly life that brings on alcoholism. Every figure in Fr Ted had a real basis; alcoholism results from a lack of fulfilment in ministry. Bishop Brennan = Dermot Clifford. Ted was the money-mad priest. Dougal was the slow 2nd son bundled off to seminary to save the farm. The rivaly with the other island reflects the priestly politics... its all there Sean.

    2. 18.42 Graham Linehan and Dermot Morgan were no ejits. You are on the ball

  4. Sometimes people don't want to go to the "professionals" straightaway. To be told "go to the AA" when a person first explores the possibility of addiction could be counter-productive. Many problem drinkers are in denial and may not be ready for the AA, which does amazing work but even they admit that success rates are low once alcohol takes control.

  5. Who is the well known Armagh PP who was seen recently in Donegal holding hands and dressed in a pink shirt. The foolish PP was observed by parishioners and is now the talk between some in his Parish.

    1. Was he with a woman or man hand in hand?

    2. It wasn’t me ...honestly
      I do hands with my boyfriend , yes even in Donegal.
      But we both single, and no he ain’t a priest.

    3. 14.37 What’s the point of your idiotic comment?

    4. I saw no less than three men with pink shirts downtown in Belfast today!! Honestly I did!
      Just shows ye... the world is full of sinners.
      Last week I saw a man still wearing his Christmas jumper... I passed by with my eyes cast downwards until I got safely into the house...

    5. I put my pink shirt into the fireplace.

    6. 12.51 The story you relate has been discussed for a few months now. The PP in question is originally from Co. Tyrone and the man he was holding hands with was wearing the pink shirt not the PP. It's being discussed by the witnesses who don't want to 'rock the boat'. The pink shirt was not meant to have sexual connotations but the person wearing it has a penchant for wearing pink shirts - it's supposed to be a clue for anyone who knows who it might be.

    7. Yes, sadly I heard this rumour. Is another scandal about to erupt in Armagh and I believe it's in Mid Ulster.

    8. Might be in Derry and not Armagh

    9. 15 you love using that word , it is a very offensive word.
      Shame on you !!!!!!!!
      I’m go to Donegal a lot, what’s your problem?
      Was just having a laugh.
      Are you annoyed that I’m a woman commenting ?
      So now we know it was 2 men.
      From Tyrone....think I’ve got it
      They might need to go to Sligo next time to really get away.

    10. @14.37,

      If you have a boyfriend you are not single.

    11. Would he have been Secretary to an Archbishop by any chance? The dogs on the street know about this one!!

    12. Is this Priest based in Co. Derry. I and my family have heard a similar rumour but I state it’s only a rumour.

  6. Pat, a lot of your articles are on the new "Divided Society" website which was launched by the Linen Hall library today.

    1. Thank you.

      I did not know.

      These articles were from my time as a columnist with THE BIG ISSUES.

    2. Will you get some extra renumeration for those Pat?
      I hope so

  7. Im glad to see a comment that says the professionals should counsel people. Incredibly, the prestige of priests is down to them being seen as sort of counsellers which is tragic and dangerous. It is a fact that there is a link between mental ilness and becoming a cleric or nun. Jesse Bering states that religious belief is adaptive - they help you fit well into life and society. This is contrasted with mental illness where you are seriously failing to adapt. It is obvious that many religious people do not adapt well. They run to convents or join a clerical caste. Plus how do you measure the adaptive or maladaptive?
    All people have irrational ideas but we should only consider them mentally ill when they are not functioning in a reasonably safe and healthy way. "As a survivor of mental illness myself, I think we should save that term for situations in which people are truly suffering and having trouble going about their lives” writes Mogilevsky.
    If a person was worshipping a turd as the one true God and claiming to be in a personal relationship with it and getting spiritual help from it that person is mentally ill even if it is the one thing that the person is doing out of the norm. There is a difference between natural wild beliefs and supernatural ones. While you may crazily think homoeopathy cured your cancer that is not necessarily insanity for you still believe in nature and that cats don't grow on trees. You are making a mistake about how nature works. But the supernatural is a different story. Somebody who is convinced that tap water cured their cancer through some ghost that was in it is not right in the head.

    Religious inspiration and "spiritual perception" take place in the temporal lobe and if this region of the brain is disturbed hallucinations and false memories of spiritual blessings and thought disorders and spiritual delusions can happen.

    Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry 1987;50:659-664
    It is a fact that nuns locked away have notoriously high chance of having a serioius mental illness such as psychosis. Other nuns are too prone to mood disorders or ocd. The priesthood as well attracts a high number of depressed men suffering from personality disorders and even psychosis.
    Psychological Medicine October 2013 found that believers suffer depression at larger rates than atheists. Now in fairness this study was about China where religion is suppressed. But it shows that religion and faith are no buffer against depression. Yet we are pressured by society to think that religion helps if things go terribly wrong in your life!

    From a 2016 study, it was learned men are less religious than women because men on average are more into analytical thinking than women and focus on how a leads to b and how things fit together and work together (systemising). So a man is more likely than a woman to question a religious doctrine or find holes in it.
    Here is a quote from the authors of the results of the study: “Although supernatural ideation has long been one diagnostic criterion for schizotypy and schizophrenia (…), schizotypy has only recently received attention among scholars of religiosity. Much of this attention has focused on Crespi and Badcock’s theory (2008; Badcock, 2009), which proposes that both religious and schizotypal individuals are prone to impressions of supernatural agents and hidden intentions because they share similar epigenetic development of the social brain related to mentalizing far beyond the normal range. Crespi and Badcock’s diametric model (Badcock, 2009; Crespi & Badcock, 2008) proposes that if the physical world is not well understood, mental concepts such as agency and intentionality expand to the whole universe, resulting in beliefs in demons and gods.”

    1. When I studied counselling and psychology at Queens there were quite a few priests on the course....Rc and church of Ireland
      Sorry haven’t time to read your rigmarole today

    2. Your post is far too long.

    3. 13.13: Would you write your own thoughts and not quote so much. Your contribution is questionable, long, distorted and factually incorrect. Your conclusions are utterly crazy. Keep going to your therapist.

    4. Wake me up when that longwinded fella finally winds down.. zzzzzz snore zzz

  8. The other thing I will add that nobody has the right to judge or condone the punishment of a dead person. We need punishment as a necessary evil in this world but if there is a life after death and Hitler is treated equal to Florence Nightingale then who cares and who should care? The saying of requiem masses is an insult to the dead person for implies they hopefully will be judged and get mercy. Mercy is not possible unless you judge and condemn first. The good the person does should matter not this rubbish.

    1. 13.16. How the f do you anything about the afterlife.

    2. "The saying of Requiem Masses is an insult to the dead person.."
      said poster 13.16

      No... I am sorry .That statement needs to be firmly challenged or your intended meaning Brough our in a different less ambiguous way.
      "It is a good and wholesome thing that we pray for the dead that they may be released from their sins"

  9. Hi Sean, some people don’t think before they type.
    Sad indeed.

  10. People use alcohol and drugs to blot out something - - a memory - loneliness - or a problem that is eating away at their happiness and their peace of mind.
    For a short time, in a state of intoxication, the torture is numbed. Then sadly the substance becomes addictive and the vicious circle continues. A person who somehow finds a way to be reconciled, happy and have lovely supportive family and friends or partner has the best chance of successfully becoming free of addiction with often a lot of setbacks on the way. But it's never just about the drink etc itself..

    1. What you say is often true.

      Alcoholism can be a symptom of a deeper problem.

    2. Man6 educationalists believe alcoholism is genetic
      So Pat there are many theories...nothing is absolute.

    3. Wise words, Pat. I'm sure that people don't consume alcohol for it's own sake (it tastes rubbish mostly) but more to obliterate memories, make present tasks easier, avoid what's coming next. Frank Duhig, the best Junior Dean of Maynooth in living memory, was a strong proponent of the Pioneers. He argued, rightly, that priesthood in a one-person presbytery was tough enough without adding booze into the mix.

    4. Wise words, Pat. I'm sure that people don't consume alcohol for it's own sake (it tastes rubbish mostly) but more to obliterate memories, make present tasks easier, avoid what's coming next. Frank Duhig, the best Junior Dean of Maynooth in living memory, was a strong proponent of the Pioneers. He argued, rightly, that priesthood in a one-person presbytery was tough enough without adding booze into the mix.

    5. I suppose a one-person presbytery near the Giant's Ring wouldn't be such a hardship.

    6. 16.22: Remove your brain from your underpants - you idiotic moron. Your comment is crass and has nothing to do with the subject matter today. You insult and degrade the memory of Pat's friend who died tragically.

    7. 16 48
      There is no need for your language, whatever went b4.
      Actually Pat, you should not print posts that have those 2 derogatory words....we had one of them as a first post too.
      Please can you monitor replies more humainly

  11. I think we should have a 'wisecatholic' conference this summer? Mass, prayer, meal, discussion. Make it an annual event

    1. With people like Rory Coyle as guest speakers and Fr McCamely on Skype from his US clinic.

    2. sounds like a great idea!

    3. Sounds great. If I had the pennies Id be there. Go for it Do one of those periscope broadcast things

    4. Sort of a good idea, can u say a mass in a central place Belfast ?
      We all could donate a tenner for light savoury grub, glass of wine or coffe, or both.
      You could advertise it, and we could listen to an inspirational talk from you Pat, and we could bring a friend or 2 that might not be au fait with this blog.
      Larne is so out of way and not at all convenient.

    5. Your mention of those 2 renegades is not what I wd envisige.
      But yes I wd attend a talk by to
      Hope that Sean could make it there too....Incognito, or could be an after lunch speaker.

    6. 18.02: "Wise Catholic" - a complete misnomer on this blog. Apart from a few intelligent contributors, the majority can hardly write proper sentences, are ignorant of their Catholic beliefs and seem mostly to enjoy ridiculing, mocking and making fun of others. Many use horrendous gossip, smear and innuendo to express their hatred of priests and the Church. So, Pat is welcome to his gathering in the summer but it will just be an empty vessel.

    7. I’d sponsor such an event but privately.

    8. I9:39 If the blog is so useless and empty why do archbishops, bishops. Priests and seminariand want to sut it down?

    9. They'd freak out at a conference, especially in the vicinity of the Giant's Ring.

  12. I'd come too and be happy to listen, learn and reflect

    Sr. Mary (The Real One)

  13. 18 02 What on earth would I say. I am not a church basher or expert on Alcohol drugs etc. I would say love God respect the people. My vocation was my salvation and thank God I can exercise it. In the words of Polonius I think to thine own self be true. I hope I have learned from my mistakes Haven't the energy to make them again.

  14. Dear Sean...that is a great will just have to be present.
    I respect you for your decisions in life....not adhering to Rc tradition is no big seem to be a good Christian and that is so important.

  15. Did anyone read that post at 13.13 I didn’t
    Would need a g and t first and normally I don’t even like alcohol.

    1. I got to "If a person was worshipping a turd..." and gave up!

      I prefer a tasty bit scandal about the priests or seminarians to keep my interest going.

  16. Hi pat,you have a sponsor at 19.47
    Don’t ignore.
    So set a date......

  17. You think that "you have" a sponsor? Believe nothing until you have the receipt in your hand is my advice.
    Fine words buttered no parsnips!
    (Which reminds me - - What happened to Kieran the Kiwi who was "definitely" going to spend Christmas with the Little Brothers?...

  18. Maybe he / she misunderstands the meaning of the word sponsor!!!!!!
    Or maybe not.
    He might be the rich Pp hand in hand with the pink shirt brigade
    They say that’s a very prosperous parish in Armagh lol

  19. Paul Prior was the worst ever Dean in Maynooth, even that total headcase Nial Ahern doesn't compare.

  20. Kieran hasn’t been on here for ages.

  21. Beautiful words. However Stephen would never touch heroin as it imply's (I know u can't say much but as long as people know he would never allow this) beautiful poem ��