It’s one of the most iconic images in Catholicism — a priest blessing and eating bread before washing it down with red wine. A tradition as old as the religion itself, the ritual can be seen at thousands of churches around the world on any given Sunday.
This is not the case at Waunakee’s St. Leo’s Catholic Church. Rather than the classic bread and wine, the church kills two birds with one stone by using cinnamon raisin bread.
Father Richard, who has been with the church for 20 years, instituted the change after beginning treatment for alcoholism last month.
“Once I realized I had a problem, I stopped cold turkey with the exception of wine during mass. But once the bottle was open, I didn’t want to let it breathe too long, so I’d polish it off. It clicked that I was still drinking too much when I noticed I was getting cheaper wine to cut costs,” said Father Richard.
Previously, the bread used for communion was made by nuns. Now, Father Richard simply rips apart pieces of Sun-Maid Raisin Cinnamon Swirl Bread and feeds it to the congregation like they’re birds at a park.
“At first, it all felt a little sacreligious. I’m pretty sure the Bible wouldn’t support using pre-sliced bread straight from the shelf at Piggly Wiggly to create the body and blood of Jesus Christ. But I’m also pretty sure that the Bible wouldn’t support all of the kid-diddling that priests seem to have a penchant for, so I decided that this is not the hill to die on,” said churchgoer Mark Lohrie of the switch.
The other priests at St. Leo’s are also supportive of Father Richard’s new fight.
“I know that the Heavenly Father would want me to support my brother in battling his demons,” said Father Dominic. “That being said, am I a little irritated that this has made it so I also can’t drink wine during mass? Yes. I’m a little irritated. But you know, it’s all God’s plan,” said the priest, as though he low-key disagreed with said plan.
So far, Father Richard has successfully remained sober. On the down side, however, he is reportedly eating six loaves of bread each day. However, there’s no cause for concern — the priest claims that it’s simply his way of getting closer to Jesus.