A monthly series in Vincentian Voices that asks five random questions to an Eastern Province Priest or Brother. This month, we talk with Fr. Pehrsson, CM.
What was the most significant moment in your priestly vocation?
Due to the goodness of my public school fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Helen Ryan, and her visit with my pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Queens, NY, I received a parish scholarship to the Vincentian St. John’s Prep in Brooklyn. The three years at the Prep changed my life as I considered the priesthood as my vocation. The wonderful Vincentian priests (22 of them in 1943) were the inspiration I needed. After three high school years, I left for St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary, Princeton, NJ.
What movie have you seen the most times? Please explain.
The last movie was The Passion while I was missioned in Alabama in the years 2003-04. Some scenes help me meditate on the Mysteries of the Rosary.
If you could ask Saint Vincent de Paul one question, what is the question and why?
Captured by the Barberry Coast pirates as a young priest, did you ever think of escaping with the help of Our Lady? I believe your devout singing of the Regina Coeli and Salve Regina caught the attention of a Moslem woman, who was instrumental in your escape with her renegade husband. Do you think your devotion to Our Lady allowed her to choose your community to be recipients of her apparitions to St. Catherine Labouré in Paris in 1830?
Besides connecting with family and friends, what do you like to do in your free time?
Since 2004, my free time at St. Catherine’s Infirmary has been a gift from God. Unpn arriving at the infirmary, I have had time to enjoy my hobby of drawing cartoons, bringing to “life” the ‘’Little People’’ of my imagination such as Puddin’ Head Jones, Mud Pie Mulligan, Patsy Gumdrop and Stumpy Stuffelfinger along with a foxy Granpa.
Since I was 14 years old, I have played the piano “by ear’’ and continue to do so with a keyboard in my room. These gifts of cartooning and playing the keyboard I consider gifts from Our Lord. I enjoy sharing with others.
Presently in my room I have 24 loose leaf books with more than 6,000 cartoons. From these, Amazon has published 19 coloring books. Three of my friends with ‘’business savvy’’ have now sent the books to France, Australia, and Japan, while another outlet has them in Germany, England, and New Zealand. These friends are now contacting children’s hospitals and retirement homes to offer them free access for coloring.
At 92 years old, I offer my hobbies as on-going acts of Thanksgiving, especially after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
If you could have dinner with one non-religious historical figure (dead or alive), who would it be and why? What might you ask them?
I would like to discuss with Abraham Lincoln the decisions he had to make during the Civil War along with the daily mental and emotional strain he had to endure as he faced a divided nation.