The St. Padre Pio Prayer Group meets for Mass, prayers, a guest speaker and “festa” as Cindy calls the meal we share afterwards in the school cafeteria. It has been about two years that I have been attending these services and am convinced that as a result I have grown spiritually. That is why earlier this year I talked my cousin, Maryann, still raw from the loss of her son last summer, to join me.
The first two times she came along she did not seem all that interested but came largely to have a visit with me. Last month however, she not only seemed more positive about it, but with the blessing of her grief counselor from Hospice, where she volunteers, she signed up as a new member. I was glad for her since I am convinced it will be good for her in the long run.
When we talked on the phone a day or two earlier, I mentioned that my parish called me to advise me that the Mass I had requested for Mark had been rescheduled to this same Saturday at 4:00 p.m. so I asked Maryann if she wanted to go with me to that Mass too and she said yes. As Mark’s family, we were asked to carry the gifts to the altar right before communion.
We’ve had some serious rain this spring, but this particular Saturday the rain came down in torrents and never let up all day. Of course it would be this day when we were in and out all day that the rain was so harsh.
Once we left the Padre Pio service, it was not yet noon, so we had lots of time to fill. I had wanted to go to a tiny Polish grocery store near my parish church for a long time, but I never seem to be in that area before they close on Saturdays at 3:00 p.m., so this was an opportunity. The cashier immediately recognized me from years of going to the late morning Mass on Sundays. We then browsed around the small store. I told the lady behind the butcher counter that I was looking for hrudka, an old fashioned sausage ring which was a staple in my parents’ home as I was growing up. While it was a staple, it was one of those meals that only my father and I enjoyed. I don’t remember what my sister and mother ate but I’ve never been able to find as tasty a hrudka as the ones I remember, even the ones I’ve had from the West Side Market just west of downtown were not as good. The lady said they carried them and that theirs were very good. Ok, willing to take a chance, I bought two. One to put in the freezer and one to cook soon. Maryann said she and her brothers disliked it so much they couldn’t eat them without catsup. A veritable desecration, I thought. Maryann did find another kind of sausage she likes and bought one.
From Peter’s Market, I drove us around Garfield Park. One of the interior roads was blocked off and the ride around the park took about a half a minute and that still left us about an hour and a half to spend before the Vigil Mass began, so we came back to my house and had some chilled water and rested and talked and I put on some dry shoes.
At 3:30 we headed back out to Saints Peter and Paul for the Mass for Mark. The Mass and our participation was very nice and we were back in and out of the still pounding rain.
Next on the agenda was dinner over at Tony’s on Pleasant Valley, and I for one was really looking forward to not only the hot meal, but the soup, which turned out to be beef barley, one of my favorites. We both ended up ordering chicken paprikas and both were soon too full to finish and for me that was a second day’s dinner.
My cousin did enjoy the meal and I was happy to have kept her busy all day. We said good night and she drove on to her home. My jacket was wet through in spite of my using an umbrella throughout the day.