Priest with a Crisis of Faith
Before the war, Father Donald Callahan was a small-town priest just north of Boston. He was ordained and given his parish as a young man (age 24) in 1854. When he arrived in the village, he found a deeply troubled flock. The town was beset by disappearances and strange occurences, including ritual murders and regular disappearances. Outsiders were shunned. Father Callahan struggled to gain the trust of his congregation, many of whom abandoned the church. Those who remained were deeply superstitious.
Father Callahan approached the problems of his parish calmly and rationally. He always looked for the most practical reasons behind the troubles his town faced. It didn’t take Father Callahan long to lose faith and feel that God himself had forsaken the town. His Faith wavered.
Still, Father Callahan put on a bold facade for his dwindling flock, superstitious and frightened as they were, Callahan tried to placate them and offer his hollow prayers. He no longer really believed in anything supernatural, let alone the God he once revered. Over his 3 years in town, the Father sunk into the grip of alcoholism, placing his faith in the wine and whiskey he always kept nearby. He grew older than his years.
Finally, in 1857, after three years serving his beleaguered parish, Father Callahan was confronted with the true evil plaguing his parish. The town was, and had been for several years, beset by a group of vampires, who were using the town as feeding and servant stock. Father Callahan’s loss of faith allowed one of the monsters to walk right into the church and confront the surviving congregation right in front of the Father’s eyes. Callahan attempted in vain to save his meager flock by rebuking the creature (Holy Warrior), but since his faith had fled him, his rebuke was for naught. As the beast touched his powerless cross, it began to melt under the thing’s foul touch. The creature shamed Callahan by leaving him alive to watch his flock slaughtered. Before leaving him, the beast marked the Father with its own blood, in the shape of a cross on his forehead, burning it into his flesh, and ridiculing his powerless faith. He begged for death upon his own altar, but even his prayers for release from his misery were denied.
Utterly hopeless and broken, Father Callahan took the next train south to New York city. There, he constantly watched for the vampires and their ghoul servants to find him and finish him. He sunk into the depths of alcoholism and despair. One night, while living at a flop house in the city, Father Callahan found himself on the streets late at night, drunk and dejected as usual, when he was accosted by a small gang of youths who taunted and insulted him in a foreign language (German). They gang held him down and cut his forehead, adding more scars to the cross burned into his skin.
When Callahan awoke, broken and bleeding in a gutter somewhere in New York city, he decided to flee the east coast. He spent the next 15 years wandering and drunk. He remembers little of where he has been, but can never forget the events that occurred back east. Finally, Father Callahan found himself on the banks of a great river and decided that he had had enough of suffering and fear. He threw himself into the water and opened his mouth to the rushing torrent.
Some time later, Father Callahan woke up. He was in a town called Sturgis, one of the designated areas for white folks just outside of Deadwood in Dakota. The whites there were short on faith and regarded this man in tattered clerical garments with a cross on his forehead to be just the sort of spiritual leader they needed in this hostile territory. Slowly, Father Callahan began to rediscover his faith. He isn’t there yet, but he knows that he has no right to be alive and that if God does exist (he still isn’t totally sure), then he damn sure wants to teach Callahan something important.