Molly Downes, wife of P.C. Johnny Downes (Neil's closest friend), has Father Neil come round for a series of private talks. She fears her husband is fooling around and seeks advice, but it's Father Neil's visits to Molly that set tongues wagging against the curate's clandestine behavior.
It's Mrs. Pring's birthday and family news takes her away for a few days, leaving Fathers Neil and Duddleswell to tend to their own cooking, cleaning and washing. To further Father D's growing appreciation of all that Mrs. Pring does for them, Father Neil plants the idea that Mrs. Pring may soon be gone for more than just a little while. Meanwhile, while Mother Stephen wants Father D to plant her mother foundress's tibia in the church, Father Neil grows weary of giving Catholic instruction to Mrs. Rollings.
St. Jude goes through Hell week, so to speak. Father D's sermon on the fires of eternal damnation has everyone abuzz about it, from Father Boyd's private instructions to Mrs. Rollings to his newly appointed lessons for ten-year-olds, to the family of an angry patriarch as he nears death, and to an interfaith conference between the Fathers and the Anglicans, with Mother Stephen and Billy Buzzle attending.
New Year's Day finds Father Duddleswell more irascible than ever thanks to neighbor Billy Buzzle's all night party next door. Now the old priest's lumbago is ailing him terribly, but the topper comes with the sudden visit of Father Abe, the wild old priest to whom Father D was once a curate - an inveterate smoker, drinker and gambler who feels his arrival comes just in time to help ailing Father D run his parish.
With a new stench about the church, the livin' ain't easy. Neighbor Billy Buzzle's built a sty next door for Porgy and Bess, his two newly acquired pigs. When Father D takes action against Porgy's roving and destructive habits, Billy takes Father Duddleswell to court.