It was really pretty amazing how differently people dealt with it. The professor was highly pleased, beginning the class with the words "I'm just going to unabashedly say this: I am a genius." We wrote differently, and some of us (me, for example) were pulled out of our comfort zones (I generally write light, humorous work, often fantasy). I myself was actually pretty impressed by the seriousness and tenderness that this piece drew out of me - but that was when I wrote it. First came the research.
The priest was required to be the point-of-view character, so I browsed the Catholic Encyclopedia online and had a long phone chat with a friend who is a devout Catholic, currently attending a Catholic university with many priests-in-training. Then, I turned to the livejournal communities little_details; and linguaphiles to get translations for some Russian (I already know a lot of Spanish, so the Peruvian construction worker, specified to speak in "broken English," was all right). A number of people on those communities objected to parts of the prompt itself, saying it is extremely unlikely for even an elderly Russian immigrant to speak not even a word of English; some also argued that he would not be an observant Jew. (My professor said that, if his Russian Jewish grandfather had read that, he would have flown into a rage and quoted the Talmud at the fellow at length.) On the other hand, I had all the translations I needed within ten or fifteen minutes. Both groups are really quite helpful.
This week (we meet on Tuesdays), we got a new prompt, this one lending itself much more to humor. I'll let you know next week how it went!