After we considered several options, we made our leap of faith. I wasn’t as daring as Brother Peter Lyne, SSP, co-organizer of the event, but so many people, religious and lay, had worked so hard, that it would have been a shame to cancel or postpone. Besides, what would we have done with all that food?
Rolling Thunder Chapter 2 NY Staten Island bikers were those heroes. They’re members of a humanitarian organization that mainly supports U.S. vets…and they like to ride. Sporting their signature leather, tattoos, and hardware, they directed parking in the glaring sun and grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, Italian sausage, and chicken to perfection—and in incredibly good spirits. Between courses, they would take five to rest and chat. During one break they called me over to explain to them the difference between “the sisters in blue” (us) and “the ones in white” (the Sister Disciples). Then they wanted to know the difference between nuns and sisters. We had a great conversation.
Two of them came down to watch the film preview. One said he hadn’t been to church in so long that he was afraid the roof would cave in if he walked in. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard that lame excuse, so I told him that the film in the basement would be a test run: If he survived that, he’d survive church. Halfway through the three-and-a-half minute showing, he got up, walked over to me and started asking questions about the Bible. At one point in our brief exchange, when I told him how Jesus didn’t have to die, but laid down his life “for you and for me,” he exclaimed, “I’m getting goose bumps!” Such a simple proclamation of the Gospel, but what an effect it had! It confirmed what I have long believed: No one can appeal to a lack of education as an excuse for not evangelizing. How many, sometimes without realizing it, are longing to hear the simple, core message of Jesus spoken in faith. How many opportunities we have to serve like that. If we pray, we will recognize those moments and, as Jesus promised, “what you should say will be given you….It won’t be you speaking, but the Spirit of my Father speaking in you” (Mt. 10:19, 20).
What made it news? The film, for one. It’s unusual. Who but James Alberione conceived of bringing a family to birth just to enter the media culture with the Gospel? But behind that is the nature of the event itself. This is the first time, certainly in my nearly 40-year Pauline memory, that we as a Family in the U.S. collaborated on a common outreach project. The Daughters and the Society collaborate often in publishing and distribution, but person-to-person contact—this is new.
He ended his remarks with the words of Fr. Alberione to the first young Paulines, so poor, so challenged, yet full of faith and hope. We listened, aware of our limitations, yet equally aware of our calling and our mission to share all we have from Jesus:
|Foreground: Sister Disciples of the Divine Master|
“Raise your eyes and look at this mighty tree [of our Family]—a tree so tall that its top cannot be seen. This is our Institute, which is truly a giant tree. You stand at the foot of a huge mountain; climb it and study the view. Your horizons are the world.”