Transcribed from interview with my informant:
“There’s this priest. He goes outside one day, he sees that there’s a cat in a tree. Of course being a priest and a good man he wants to get the cat down from the tree, but for some reason he decides he’s going to go down the most cartoon-y route possible.”
“His neighbor has a pick-up truck, so what he does is he borrows his neighbor’s pick-up truck and then ties a rope to one end–the first end of the rope he ties to the tree, the second end to the back of the truck. Now he thinks he’s going to be able to bend the tree down just far enough that he’ll be able to reach up to the branch, get the cat, and put it safely on the ground.”
“However, the rope snaps midway through- the rope snaps midway through, the tree shoots back upwards and the cat goes flying into the sky. The priest searches all over for the cat, never finds it. Then about two weeks later he’s at the grocery store. He sees this woman who is buying cat food and he knows this woman hates cats, so he asks her ‘Why are you buying cat food?'”
“She says ‘Well you’re not going to believe this but the other day I was talking to my little girl. She said she wanted a cat very badly. I said to her you can have a cat when God gives you one. So she went outside, went on the ground, and started praying. Then out of nowhere a cat flew out of the sky and landed in front of her.'”
My informant heard this story from his Catholic priest in Nantucket, who would apparently end every sermon with some sort of a joke. He couldn’t remember the particular sermon this story was attached to, but suspected there was some thematic connection between the above narrative and the sermon.
This particular joke is interesting in that at its root, it concerns the actions of a priest being mistaken for divine intervention, perhaps speaking to some concerns of the Catholic faith. Notably, the priest was unaware of the consequences of what he did, so the point might be that providence governs our actions whether we realize it or not.