Another moment or two and the late afternoon sun would set behind the church tower. It would be dark then and Father Sebastian would go back to his cell. There, he would pray privately for an hour before vespers, and then to go to Mass with the others.
Father Sebastian closed his ledger book. As of this date there were seventeen children of God. They were orphans, but to Father Sebastian they would always be the children of God ... until they were adopted. In his book each child bore a different name. There was a Walter, a Louise and a Jeremiah ... and fourteen others. A different name for each of them and Father Sebastian would do everything in his power to see that they carried these names with them when they left the orphanage.
He was proud of the fact that he named each of them at their christenings. He was fond of children, and his right to name them before they were sent out to foster parents gave him the warm feeling of fatherhood, even though he knew they would never be his. When they were finally accepted for adoption he hoped they would keep the name he gave them as infants.
He thought of Walter as Wally, Louise as Lisa and Jeremiah as Jerry, just as any father would nickname his children. He often removed his glasses and looked at the sky and dreamed of the greatness they might achieve in the world outside the church some day. It was a far more dangerous and complicated place than the world he knew ... he was sure of that. He could only pray for them.
So when he knelt in his cell for private prayer before vespers he would ask God if it was all right with Him if he felt more like a father than a priest to these children. He might even suggest to the Heavenly Father the possibility that the two were inseparable after all.