One of the pre-war Spanish Capuchin priests
Nowadays, we call the cops if there is a family dispute bordering on violence.
In the past, as one lady said, "Guse'-ña ma ågang si Påle' ke ni polisia!" "They would call the priest quicker than calling the police."
From all my conversations with the elders about this topic, I would summarize the reasons for this as follows, in no particular order of importance :
1. A priest would keep the family trouble quiet; the police may arrest someone, file a report that makes the squabble public.
"Yanggen si Påle' ma ågang, u såga' ha' gi halom guma' i plaito." "If Father is called, the fight will stay inside the home."
2. A priest was looked on as a person of wisdom - a spokesman for God - who could persuade and change hearts or minds; the policeman was seen as someone to be feared.
"Siempre ma respeta mås si Påle'. Achok ha' taimano binibu-ña i palao'an pat i lahe pat todo i dos, an kumuentos si Påle', ma ekkungok." "They will surely respect Father more. No matter how angry the woman or the man or both are, when Father speaks, they listen."
Some examples of priestly intervention were :
1. "Annai i dos saina på'go ma tungo' na mapotge' i hobensita åntes de umassagua. Ai! Sumen lalalo' i tata ya siña ta ålok na ha ke' puno' i hagå-ña. Umentalo' i nana para u prinetehe i hagå-ña, pues i tata ha ke' dommo' lokkue' i asaguå-ña! Pues ayo nai na ma ågang si Påle'!"
"When the two parents just found out that the teenage daughter was pregnant before marriage. Oh my! The father got so mad we could say he almost tried to kill his daughter. So the mother intervened to protect her daughter, so the dad tried to punch his wife! That's when they called Father!"
2. "Ai, Påle', sa' hu hasso annai måtto un puenge sen atrasao si tatå-ho. Sen bulacho asta ke kumåkånta a'gagang gi chalan ya esta tatalo' puenge. Ha na' sen mamåhlao si nanan-måme. Gigon humålom si tatå-ho gi gima', inanña' si tatå-ho gi as nanå-ho. Todo i siña ha go'te ha usa para u kastiga si tatå-ho. I sapatos-ña, i siya, i sinturon....masea håfa siña ha gu'ot! Ha tågo yo' si bihå-ho para u ågang guihe guato gi gima'-måme si Påle', achok ha' esta ges painge. Magåhet na måtto si Påle'. Ha kuentuse si nanå-ho ya magåhet na ha na' måpao. Ha konne' si tatå-ho para u maigo' gi otro na guma'. Sigiente dia, ha bira gue' si tatå-ho guato gi gima'-måme ya, asta ke måtai i dos, tåya' na kumuentos i dos saina-ho pot ayo na pupuenge."
"Oh, Father, I remember when my father came one night very late. He was so drunk that he was even singing loudly in the streets and it was already midnight. He made our mother so embarrassed. The moment my father entered the home, he was beaten by my mother. Everything she could hold she used to punish him. Her shoes, the chair, the belt...whatever she could grab. My grandmother told me to go call the priest over to our house even though it was very late. Indeed, Father came. He talked to my mother and really calmed her down. He took my dad to sleep at another house. The next day, my dad came back to our house and, till the day they both died, my two parents never talked about that night."
To be sure, not everyone called the priest, and there were times that one in the family, more so the father or a son, would turn against the priest rather than listen to him.
But, many priests were called in to intervene in a family fight, and at all hours of the day or night.