How would I spend the afternoon in Parma before heading over to St. Charles for the 5:30 P.M. Mass this past Sunday? For some time I had been wanting to revisit The Queen of the Holy Rosary Shrine on the grounds of Incarnate Word Parish and school on Pearl Road. From going to the healing service every Wednesday for years, I dropped off altogether and now many years have gone by. A couple of years back, I heard that the services were stopped by the Fire Department on a technicality over insurance. Then Sister Monica passed on.
When the sign for the West 25th Street Exit came into view I pulled off of Highway 90 East and hobbled through the stop/start traffic until I finally I saw the familiar area and pulled into the drive and parked under a tree.
The little white building which had been the chapel and a similar one next to it were gone and it looked bare, though the ground was covered with grass and white clover, everything was neat and orderly. If I did not know there had been 2 little buildings there, I could not have guessed it.
Some young women were standing near the shrine and I approached them to see if they knew when the buildings had been removed, but one said that she had no idea and that they were not from here. I began to explain about Sister Monica and the healing services and learned that they were from St. Therese in Garfield Heights. I laughed and said that I was from Saints Peter and Paul, just down Turney Road, also in Garfield Heights and gave the young lady, Karen, my name and address card. She said they were there to walk the Labyrinth and if I cared to join them, I could do so. I did just that.
We ducked into the shrine and 2 of the ladies took turns reading from a pamphlet about the way to walk the Labyrinth and to make our prayerful journey in silence. The women were of an assortment of ages and appearances. As each in turn stepped into the large circular brick walk, the next waiting until about four feet separated her from the one ahead, each woman lifted her heart in silent prayer to give her greatest worries to God.
When we bid each other farewell it was three thirty and I went on to a little shop in Southland to spend a gift card and was pleasantly surprised to find that since I bought 2 bottles of liquid lemon hand soap, it was buy 2 get one free day so my gift card netted me an extra bottle of that nice soap.
From there I drove back to St. Charles with the few words I could remember from a hymn we used to sing at the shrine “…this is Holy Ground…” weaving through other thoughts. When I walked into the Church that my grandfather helped to build, I saw a couple I haven’t seen since we bumped into each other one Monday afternoon (senior price day) at Cinemark Theatre last autumn. I met them at St. Charles a few years ago at a weekday evening Mass. We have exchanged Christmas cards and always enjoy chatting when we do happen to see each other.
Plus One Equals Ten
Nine women gathered to pray
I was alone. They welcomed
me to join them, now we were ten.
Each was different from the other
in age, appearance, point in her journey of life.
Silence held us together as we walked
the Labyrinth, one by one about four feet apart.
Ten hearts focused on individual
prayers, hoping to quiet the frenzy
of major sources of worry.