The Holy Name of Jesus
Once, as a kid, my mother showed 8mm films from her past featuring one of the ground breaking ceremony for the new parish church I’d spend my life forever entwined in. Following clergy and various white men, my mother was the first gal to toss a shovel full of dirt aside. I was impressed, even as a child, she got the first lady honor.
The church, with the ridiculously long name of The Holy Name of Jesus, had been built to be the grade school’s gym. For reason’s above my pay grade’s knowledge the gym was nixed (only after completion) and became the parish church instead. Unfortunately it always looked like a gym. It was wickedly obvious where the basketball courts were meant to be with corresponding bleachers.
Around 5th grade it was retrofitted, meaning the priest got his hands on free carpeting in 1970s gold and burnt orange, which did nothing to reduce the association as being what God intended the building to be, a gym.
Throughout my youth I spend countless hours in the gym/church bored out of my skull though I learned to hide it. If you slouched while assuming a kneeling position you left yourself wide open to be publicly ridiculed by the priest. See, Sr. Alice, a geriatric with a hump could kneel without her tiny heinie on the pew, then surely you could too!
Aside: Sr. Alice lived forever it seemed. Even in high school, while working at the local Sears, she’d wobble in to buy nylons she paid for with change I’m assuming she found in the parking lot. She died in a car accident being lunged off the Schuylkill (or Sure Kill) Expressway. According to the parish priest her last words were noted, as the car flipped over and over, to be “Weeee!”
Fast-forward decades to recently when I was asked to give my workshop on the Power of the Feminine in Mexico to the local women’s group by a childhood pal. I’ve been handsomely rewarded to lead the workshop around Mexico and for women’s groups in border states so thought since I’d be there anyway it would be fun for the workshop to travel farther north.
When my mother was alive and in The Holy Name of Jesus’ women’s group they telephoned each other to offer prayers for those requested. Today the ladies tweet, post and paste prayer requests while also offering weekly meetings on various topics.
Since my childhood a lovely The Holy Name of Jesus church has been build, as had a gym, so the church/gym of the 1960s is now a lecture hall. So I’d be speaking in the lecture hall/church/gym that I was last in for my mother’s funeral.
Being located above the cafeteria, my mother’s service played to the din of hundreds of grade school kids eating lunch below us. I suppose some found the noise disconcerting but I rather enjoyed it. Like it or not, most of us spend the bulk of our lives raising children as did my mother. I enjoy their background noise as did my mother.
My chat went well and though I thought I would be emotionally dramatized to be back where I laid my mother to rest, I worried needlessly. My mother guided my sister, Kitty, and I through the talk, humor and fun of no longer being merely an altar boy but the center of attention expounding on what I love – explaining the history and culture of Mexico!