Father Tom Donnelly was a priest who always managed to annoy his bishop; not because he did anything awful, but simply because he got the diocese bad publicity from his Bingo Night at St. Leo's being raided by the State Police. Fr. Tom was an unconventional cleric that just didn't fit into the bishop's idea of what a good shepherd of souls should be, so he was assigned to the diocese's equivalent of Siberia, Gulf Coast-style: St. Daphne's in Oleander Beach, a sleepy, not too prosperous Gulf Coast resort town away from the sight of his Excellency. Since his pastoral duties were few, and he had a lot of energy, he joined the local Kiwanis and hung out with the men and women of this business club. Naturally, being men and women of commerce, of the most impeccable but not very successful sort (given the local economy), the topic often drifted into how to increase Oleander Beach's presence in the world of tourism. Alas, it had no big draw destinations, the fishing was mediocre, it lacked even small amenities such as Hooters' or Hard Rock Cafes, and nothing that in any way could have been parlyed into a tourist mecca or even a stopover. It was a sad situation, and the Good Father wanted to help.
The locals tried the usual: the fishing tournaments, advertisements for the college Spring Break trade; seeing it as a benefit rather than a burden (unlike Fort Lauderdale and Daytona Beach), Minature Golf Tournaments, even tried Seniors Special Romance Getaways. But to no avail. The motels, sno-cone stands, and minature golf courses went underused. There was only one time there was a seeming upswing in motel accomodations; it turned out that the rooms were occupied by drug smugglers and ATF agents, and the town got another negative story in the news.
But Father Donnelly, Bless his heart, did not give up. He thought, "Why not have a religious reason for tourism? After all, some parishes have a Blessing of the Pets or a Blessing of the Shrimp Boats or some other form of lite piety to attract people. Fr. Tom liked ceremony; but he was smart enough to keep them short. People on holiday get impatient with sermons or ceremonies lasting over a half hour. Now what could increase tourism?" He thought that he would pray for guidance; and have a few pints afterward.
Several weeks later, His Excellency Bishop James Clancy sat down to breakfast. It was a simple breakfast of sweet rolls and coffee served on the good Diocesean china, as befitting a bishop during the holy time of Lent. He turned open the Tallahassee News, as chanced upon a story:
"St. Daphne's in Oleander Beach to have a Blessing of the Bikinis at the Main Pavilion on the Beach This Saturday."
8 hours ago