Priest Listens to Homeless Lady’s Confession, Realizes She’s Mom Who Dumped Him — Story of the Day

Father Matthew saw a new parishioner at his church, a homeless woman who prayed on her knees for hours at a time. She came to confession one day after his encouragement and what he heard from her changed everything he had believed his entire life.

“Thank you, Father. I really needed to get that out of my chest,” a nice parishioner who often came to the confessional said and exited. Matthew had been listening to the woes and perceived sins of the members of his church for more than three decades, and hearing the ease in their voices and hearts never got old.

He knew he was doing the Lord’s work; even if it might be a little sinful, he also knew he was making his late grandfather proud. Yes, pride is a sin, and that’s why he didn’t feel entirely comfortable with this emotion, but he couldn’t help it. He might be a priest, but he was also human.

His grandfather, Father John, had become a priest after years of trying to find himself, and being part of the church was his calling. He was already married by then and had one daughter. His grandmother, Winifred, was happy to join the church community and adored that setting.

That’s why Matthew grew up in that setting; becoming a priest seemed natural. He never started a family because priests can be ordained after marriage. However, if you start your path as a priest as a single man, you’re discouraged from finding a spouse later. Matthew was fine with that. He preferred to dedicate himself to God.

“OK, why don’t you come with me?” he offered.
But there was another reason, and one of the reasons why he also went to confession regularly. There was a dark spot in his heart: resentfulness for his mother. Years ago, she had abandoned him with his grandparents and left forever.

His grandparents – as righteous and generous people of God – raised him and told him what happened when he got older. Matthew hated that his mother never appeared back in his life and his father apparently was never in the picture. The only thing he had to remember his mother by was a bracelet he found when he was ten. He didn’t understand much about it. But he still wore it.

It didn’t feel good to be abandoned as a baby, and even if he doesn’t remember them, he would’ve liked an explanation from her. All he knew was her name: Mary-Rose.

Father Matthew had been trying to ease the resentment in his heart for many decades. He was now 57 and knew he was a sinner, and that’s why his journey with God was so important. He hoped to find it in his heart to forgive her somehow before his time came. Otherwise, he didn’t deserve to enter into the kingdom of Heaven.

But he would continue helping others forgive themselves and try to work on his issues simultaneously. That was his calling, and he would do it until the day he died.


Father Matthew was writing his Sunday sermon and needed a break, so he decided to walk through the mostly empty church on a Thursday afternoon. However, it wasn’t empty this time. An older woman in heavy but worn clothes knelt on the pews and prayed forcefully.

He knew most of his parishioners; this was the first time he saw her. Based on her clothes and her general vibe, Father Matthew knew she might be penniless and, perhaps, homeless. But he didn’t judge anyone for that.

Some of the greatest members of his community had been down on their luck until they found God and worked on themselves. Maybe, he could help this woman, too. But he had to stay away until she decided to come to the confessional or ask for help directly.

For now, he would walk the space, think about his favorite tales and lesson in the Bible, and think about what awaited everyone once they left this world. Priests are more philosophical than you imagine. But a few days later, Father Matthew learned more about the homeless woman.

Father Matthew was returning from a trip to the grocery store. His stomach was growling, and he couldn’t wait to try a spaghetti recipe a churchgoer had suggested. But it was raining, so he walked slowly and carefully as the cement on the sidewalk was unusually slippery.

To his surprise, he saw the old, homeless woman walking around aimlessly. His neighborhood was not far from the church, so it was normal. The problem was that the woman was holding herself tightly, and her clothes were visibly soaked.

“Excuse me, ma’am. Are you alright?” he approached her carefully, putting his umbrella over her body.

“Oh, Father. You don’t have to do that,” the old woman said, her eyes downcast the entire time.

“Where are you going? I can walk with you, so you don’t get even wetter,” Father Matthew asked.

“Well, I was going to the church,” she answered.

“That’s not a good idea right now. It’s pretty cold in there, and you’re all wet,” he continued. “Do you have somewhere to go?”

The older woman pursed her lips, ashamed, and shook her head.

“OK, why don’t you come with me?” he offered, and although the woman tried to refuse, he urged her to follow him.

They went into his home, a property owned by the church, and he gave her a change of clothes. He had stored some of the donations of the flock for their next charity event, so there were a bunch of things that would work perfectly. He also allowed her to use the bathroom and freshen up.

“That’s true, Father. I have come back and decided to come to this church again.”
Meanwhile, Father Matthew started dinner, making more food than usual for the first time in a while. He felt glad about that. The older woman came out of the bathroom just as he served their plates.

“Come eat. Someone at the church told me about this sauce; it smells incredible,” he said, smiling.

“Thank you, Father. This is too much,” the woman said and sat.

“You’re welcome, child,” he replied and started eating. They enjoyed a few minutes of comfortable silence, except for chewing and sipping. But Father Matthew wanted to know more about her. “I saw you at the church a few days ago and several times after. I haven’t seen you before.”

The older woman nodded timidly.

“You’re always welcome there, of course. But I wanted to know why you pray so hard every time you’re there. Can you tell me?” he continued.

The older woman stayed silent, and Matthew nodded.

“That’s alright, then. But you can always come to the confessional if necessary. I go every week to ease my troubles, and it works wonders,” he explained kindly. He expected her to continue eating without a word, but she finally spoke.

“I only just got the courage to start entering the church. I don’t know if I can reveal all my sins yet,” the old woman continued.

“What’s your name, child?”


“Beautiful name. Listen, I won’t push you, but I want to encourage you to ask for help if needed. Do you have somewhere to stay?” Matthew questioned, concerned this time.

“Not yet. I’m figuring things out,” Mary replied, looking down again.

“OK. Don’t worry. I won’t push for anymore. Would you like more spaghetti?”

“Yes, please,” Mary smiled for the first time that night, and Matthew was glad.

He offered her his couch for the night, but she left early the following day, leaving a tiny note to thank him. However, Matthew knew he would see her at the church. Clearly, she had something to work out with God.


Father Matthew saw the woman several times in the next few days, and he asked some of the more-involved parishioners to see if they could help her with her living situation. However, the older woman refused assistance, and they couldn’t force her. They had to be patient.

But several weeks after their dinner, she finally entered the confessional booth.

“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned,” Mary began.

“Go on, my child,” Matthew said, eager to help her.

“Where do I begin?” Mary said, swallowing. “Years ago, I got pregnant. I was 18 and stupid, so my parents kicked me out of the house. I thought I could make it on my own.”

Father Matthew listened intently as she genuinely revealed all the pain that plagued her.

“But when I had the baby, I knew I couldn’t. I couldn’t give him a good life. I ended up at a homeless shelter. So, I begged my parents again for help,” Mary continued. “They didn’t want to and offered only to take my baby. They were important members of the church… well, this church actually, and having an unwed, pregnant daughter would’ve marred their reputation.”

Matthew sighed without noise. He had to admit that some people at the church were highly judgmental of others, but he had been trying to change that for years. However, he also wondered who Mary’s parents were and why they would be so cruel.

“But they saw the baby and decided to raise him on the condition that I never return to their lives,” Mary added. “So, I went away for a long time. My situation didn’t get any better. I tried, but I was depressed at losing my entire family for one mistake, and I made terrible choices with some bad people.”

“You? You’re my Billy?” she asked, her eyes watering all over again.
“You can always find yourself back to God, child,” Father Matthew said when Mary passed for a second to gather herself. Her emotions were evident. This confessional was the first time she had ever talked about her life, and she felt everything at that moment. He needed to encourage more honesty from her and let her get everything out.

“That’s true, Father. I have come back and decided to come to this church again. My parents are long gone, but I still think about my dear… Billy. I don’t know where he is or if he had a good life. He must be 57 right now, so I hope he’s happy and healthy,” Mary said, sniffling a bit.

But the older woman didn’t realize that Father Matthew had stopped breathing. Billy. That name was on his bracelet. The same one he had found when he was ten and had worn since then. He never understood why his grandparents wouldn’t tell him more about his mother or what this bracelet meant, but now, all the puzzle pieces fell together.

John and Winifred had been respected and righteous people at church, and the idea that they had turned their own daughter away during her time of need was hard to swallow. But some of the things his grandfather said in the past made him reconsider. Hindsight is 20/20, after all.

They had done this to their daughter to serve their pride, and Matthew had resented his mother all this time for something she couldn’t even help. She was a child, for God’s sake. She had no one to support her and nothing to her name. But worst of all, his grandparents had lied all these years.

“What can I do, Father? Can I find redemption for abandoning my baby and for not living a good life?” Mary questioned, snapping Matthew out of his dark thoughts.

“Of course, you can, my child. God is kind and patient to those that ask for forgiveness,” he said in a hoarse voice.

“Thank you, Father. I’ll keep praying for his mercy,” Mary said. “Oh, how do I end this? I almost forgot. It’s been so long. ‘I’m sorry for these and all my sins.'”

“My child, I’ll think you’ll find three Hail Marys will help you as your penance,” he told her. “I’ll give you the absolution from God now.”

Father Matthew said the common prayer, and Mary replied, “Amen.”

She left the booth, and Matthew thought about letting her go. But he couldn’t. He had to stop and tell her the truth.

“Mary,” he said, and the old woman turned, surprised that he had left the booth. Father Matthew lifted part of his sleeve and showed her the bracelet on his wrist, which made Mary’s eyes bulge.

“You? You’re my Billy?” she asked, her eyes watering again.

“Yes, it seems. I had no idea, and I didn’t know everything you went through,” he confessed unofficially. “I was told… a different story. And I have prayed to find it in my heart to forgive you since then.”

“Oh, that makes sense. My parents would’ve never admitted to what they did,” Mary nodded as tears ran down her face.

“It seems we have a lot to talk about. Please, come to my house?” he asked, and she nodded.

They talked for many hours as Mary tried to explain more about her story. She also revealed that she hated the name Mary-Rose, so she only went by Mary because she hoped it would encourage God’s forgiveness.

Matthew revealed that his grandparents had always referred to him as Matthew and had found the bracelet later, discovering that they had changed his name. As they learned more and more about each other, he realized that he shouldn’t have blamed her, and he also didn’t blame his grandparents either, despite their reproachable actions.

Judgment was up to God and not him. No one was a saint on earth, and he knew God had returned his mother to him at the right time. She was not ready for him before. So, he asked her to stay, and Mary lived with him until her dying day. Meanwhile, Father Matthew continued his work at the church, but his sermons encouraged less judgment and more understanding of others since then.

What can we learn from this story?

It’s not up to us to judge anyone for their actions. Even as a priest, Father Matthew had much to learn about sins, forgiveness, faith, and more. But he learned a big lesson about judgment from his own mother.
You can always be forgiven, no matter what your faith is. All you need is to feel genuine remorse for your actions and try to do better.

Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.

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