Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Nuns

There are a few people in your life that demonstrate the meaning of friendship. Perhaps even more rare is a friendship shared among three people (yes, a blatant Trinitarian reference). I was fortunate to have come across Ange and Terese early in my life while in the 8th grade at St. Mary's Grade School in Michigan City, Indiana. I had gone to live with my grandparents that year and St. Mary's is where my uncle and mother attended grade school and high school next door at Marquette. Sissy and I had also done a semester there earlier when there had been a fire in our apartment building. We had stayed with my grandparents until my mother had completed the apartment renovations.

I think that in 8th grade most students are 12, and that would put us in 1979. I know that I graduated St. Mary's in 1980 so this is as accurate as can be hoped. Of course, I was still interested in the monastic life but had learned to accept the notion that I would not be departing for the monastery in the United States until after high school, at least. About this time in Northern Indiana, the Catholic Charismatic movement was taking place. In Michigan City, the prayer group was known as the Alleluia people and it met at St. Anthony's Hospital in Michigan City run by the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration. In addition to the weekly prayer group, sometimes before school I would get up early and go to the sister's chapel at the hospital and say morning prayer with them and attend Mass. I was only close to one of the sisters at the hospital and her name was Sister Rita Marie. I believe she was Canadian and was working in Pastoral Care at the time. I met her again in 2008 when visiting my Aunt Carol in the hospital. She didn't remember me at all! Too funny. How would you forget a 12 year old boy coming to the hospital chapel to say morning prayers with the sisters at 6:00 a.m. on a school day?

It was at the prayer group, however, that I first met Sister Angeline Benz. She was a very social person, very feminine and petite with a great sense of humor and good-storyteller attributes (she would be great at blogging or because of the quality of her voice, perhaps podcasting). Ange decided that she should introduced me to Terese Fabbri (formerly known as Sister Anita Mary) and set up a meeting for us at St. Mary of the Lake in New Buffalo, MI. Terese was known for her ability to relate to teenagers and a mutual affection was nearly instantaneous. St. Mary’s had a vibrant prayer group known as the People of Joy. Ange introduced me to Terese and we got acquainted sitting on the stage in the basement of the church before the prayer meeting. Such a simple introduction and under very ordinary circumstances, a life-altering and life-sustaining friendship was developed.

Now, 31 years later, there are many additional stories to tell of friendship shared, great vacation experiences and endless hours of really great telephone conversations! I look forward to blogging about some of these as time goes on.

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