Big Frank & The Cow

July 3, 2024

Back in the mid-1950s, Father Frank Aylward was in charge of the St. Dunstan’s University farm with all its vast acreage and generous animal stock.

He was an excellent choice for this role, a late vocation with many skills and a rough side to match.

Unfortunately, one of his fine Holstein cows had died, a great loss.  Before long, however, he spotted a newspaper ad about a Holstein cow for sale out in Argyle Shore some twenty miles from town.

Taking with him young Father Frank Cameron (who related the story), out they went to see this animal and found the farm within a very non-Catholic section of the Island.

To the woman at the door he gave his name and asked if he could see the cow.

It must have been a shock for her to see these well-dressed clergymen, but she explained that with her husband’s illness they were cutting back their farming duties. On their way to the barn, in good PEI fashion, she asked where the priest was from. Aylward said that he was the farmer at St. Dunstan’s University and was pretty much in charge of running the whole place there!!

Having looked over the “for sale” cow he asked about the price.

The lady said they were asking a hundred dollars but that the priest could have this special animal for ninety.

Fr. Aylward replied that this was a fine cow and that he would pay her the full price of a hundred without question.

Approaching the house then, the woman asked if the reverends would offer a prayer for her sickly husband in the house. Both priests prayed splendidly with him and then a great chat ensued between him and Father Aylward, especially about farming. Then all hands moved to the kitchen for a splendid snack.

What a fine touch of unexpected ecumenical dialogue that day, all initiated because of that dead SDU cow.

Father “Big Frank” Aylward lived to the great age of 98, while Father Frank Cameron died young at 85.

From Fr. Art O’Shea, Diocesan Reflections #99 (July 2024)