Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Geography Lessons

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Geography Lessons

Article excerpt

When my mom and dad started going to Mass at St. Matthias, a "German parish" a block away from their new apartment, a friend asked them, "What are you going there for? All the Irish go over to Queen of Angels," a mere four blocks away. Non-sense, said my parents. The Germans must have turned out OK, because when it came time to buy a home, it too was one block from St. Matthias. The first Sunday morning in the house, my mom gaped as dozens of neighbors opened our gate and paraded though our backyard on their way to and from Mass. Some of them smiled and waved to her as she ate breakfast in her bathrobe. Our yard turned out to be the shortcut to church for half of the parish: Massgoers on Sundays, schoolchildren on weekdays. Dad could have padlocked the gate, I guess, but of course he didn't. Migratory paths are sacred, after all.

On my son's Baptism day 12 years ago, my husband spontaneously suggested that our extended family walk the five blocks to church. "Of course you wanted to walk," said a friend. "Catholics call that a procession, you know." Now each morning my husband walks our children to the parish school, next door to the church of their Baptisms. They wave to elderly friends leaving daily Mass or say hi to our pastor out in front of church. On Sundays my son serves Mass with his buddies from school. The loving bonds of community encircle my children: on Sundays, on schooldays. Some diocesan officials tout consolidated "regional schools" as replacements for our struggling parish schools. …

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