Thursday, November 11, 2004

An ecumenical encounter at Wal-Mart.

Every month, some of the residents at Abbey Living Center go on an outing planned by the nursing home's activity staff. This month, the outing was to an area Wal-Mart, and my fellow novice volunteers and I went along. Each of us accompanied a particular resident through the store and helped them with their shopping. The resident I was helping, a lady named Hope, is very talkative and has a great sense of humor, which made the experience a lot of fun. After picking up everything she needed and paying at the checkout, Hope wanted to go outside to smoke a cigarette. As we sat in front of the store, Hope with her cigarette and I with her shopping bag, a middle-aged man and woman approached us and struck up a conversation. The couple handed us pamphlets full of Bible verses and announced themselves as members of a local Baptist church. At this point, Hope - who is very Catholic - pointed at me and said, "He's a Jesuit." I confirmed that I was a novice in the Society, aspiring to the Catholic priesthood. At this, the faces of our heretofore smiling interlocutors dropped: they clearly didn't know what to make of Hope and me, especially me. I thanked the Baptists for their pamphlets and wished them Godspeed; they responded "Have a nice day" and withdrew with some awkwardness. I would've been happy to continue chatting with them, but I suspect they decided their time would be better spent on likelier prospects. AMDG.


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