A few weeks ago I gave two presentations on St. Therese at two different parishes on the same day. Here’s how it transpired.
I was scheduled to give a presentation entitled, “St. Therese and the Year of Faith”, at St. Matthias Parish in Bala Cynwyd, PA at 1:30PM. It is always a bit ‘touch and go’ trying to find the designated venue in a new location. Maria and I made a detour into the Elementary School upstairs before being redirected by a lady to the Parish Hall on the first floor.
As we entered the hall, the woman running the event, a very nice lady named Dolores, greeted us enthusiastically and showed us around. She had gone all-out for the event covering each table with a white tablecloth bedecked with rose petals . A nice touch for a teaching on St. Therese. She had coffee and all kinds of desserts available for the attendees.
Dolores was the leader of the Highlanders – the seniors group at the parish so called because Highland Ave. runs along one side of the church and the area was predominantly Welsh when it was settled. She said that they usually had around 10 people at the meetings, but due to her masterly job of advertising, no less than 45 people attended the talk. Every seat was taken.
I was a bit nervous before the talk because I was getting over a cold and my voice was not yet 100%. I also tend to sweat when I have a cold. Not a great combination being hoarse and sweaty for a presentation! I did the best I could and it went extremely well with the very attentive audience who laughed at all the right places. The talk concluded with a 15 minute question and answer time.
The most inspiring part for me, however, was how reverently many of them venerated the first class relic of St. Therese after the presentation. Several people were suffering with serious conditions and asked that the relic be touched to their ailment. Many touched rosaries or devotional items to the relic with much faith. One woman shared that it was her 75th Birthday (she didn’t look a day over 60) and she had made the day special by treating herself to my talk!
The people who worked in the Parish Office next door requested that I come over so they could venerate the relic. A few ladies kissed the relic and asked questions about it. One of the priests made a special trip downstairs and asked that I bless him with the relic. It isn’t every day that a layman gets to bless a priest! The visit concluded after they showed me a skullcap that Blessed Pope John Paul II had given to the Monsignor.
There is an old saying that goes “expect the unexpected”. That perfectly sums up the talk later that evening at one of our favorite local parishes, Our Lady of the Assumption in Strafford, PA. Things did not go exactly according to plan.
I thought that the presentation was to take place in the Sacred Heart Chapel under the church at 7PM. Unbeknownst to me, it had been advertised for 7:30PM in another building called the Upper Room. The man who was supposed to let me in the building was unable to come because he was sick. Luckily someone who knew the combination to the lock saw my distress and let me in the building. She gave me the caveat that I must keep the door propped open or it would lock behind me. She wished me well and departed.
As I was making my second trip out to the car while setting up, I forgot her warning and my stomach dropped as I heard the door shut behind me with a thud. I had locked myself out of the building and people would be arriving soon. I thought that it would be quite embarrassing to be stranded in the parking lot with the attendees of the talk due to my own negligence!
I prayed for assistance and thankfully it came almost immedately in the form of a very nice nun named Sr. Kathleen. She not only knew the lock combination, but knew the trick for propping the door open in a foolproof way. She helped me set up and even attended the entire presentation, something she had not planned to do.
I am grateful to the many people who attended, especially one man named Richard who even came back again the next evening and brought his sister-in-law who was visiting from Memphis. At one point I was telling a story when a commotion broke out in the room. I saw Monsignor Marino standing in the doorway while his dog, Denis, ran around greeting everyone like a good host. It was my first canine cameo at a talk!
We are now roughly halfway through the Year of Faith. How is everyone doing with it? What specific things have you chosen to do to grow in your faith this year?
Maria has been very consistent with her resolution to pray the rosary every day. I am still plugging away through the Catechism. Let me know how you are doing.