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  • Steve Auth

One Heck of a Party

Monday of Holy Week, March 25, 2024

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Midtown, New York.  Right on schedule, our missionary team descended on St. Patrick’s at 2 pm yesterday-- a dozen or so missionaries along with a half a dozen priests, including Cardinal Dolan himself, manning the confessionals.  And in the spirit of our mission theme for this Holy Week, it was one heck of a party.  The Cathedral was drawing even more than the usual number of tourists from all over the world, including what seemed like half of Latin America—requiring all the Spanish we could muster!  And along with them were mixed hundreds of New Yorkers, some of the parish and others from around town and the outer boroughs and Jersey.  All had come to visit the great church, and many had within them another motive, at least another sub-conscious motive:  to reconcile with the Lord ahead of the important events of Holy Week about to come.  All they seemed to need was a joyful missionary to invite them to the feast.  And that’s exactly what they got.

Too many stories, so I’m only going to give you two.

Late in the night, bounding up from the crypt with the last of the rosary supply, in my usual hurry to get back to work, I heard a voice telling me to slow down, to grab “the better part.”  So, I slipped into the adoration chapel for a short chat with the Lord.  “I’m not worthy of this, I’m not good enough.”  “You’re right, but I love you anyway and I want you to be part of this.  Now get back out there.”  No sooner did I arrive back at my station, that instantly a middle-aged man strolled by alone.  Seemed a little distracted.  Didn’t make eye contact.  “An unlikely prospect,” I thought.  “Ask him anyway!” “Excuse me sir.  Would you like a rosary?”  “Why thank you, yes….”  “What’s your name?”, I ask as I disentangle the rosary he’s selected from my armful.  “Steve.”  Ding!  Ding! Ding!  “Wow!  That’s my name!  This can’t just be a coincidence!  I almost never get a ‘Steve’.”  A few minutes later, “Steve, how are you doing?  You seem kind of distracted, deep in thought.”  “Trying to get my life sorted out, that’s all.  Just retired from my job and thinking of a fresh start.”  “Have you considered confession?  Great chance to wipe the slate clean.”  “Oh my!  It’s been 55 years since did that.  Where would I start?”  “I’m guessing you know where to start, Steve.”  “Yeah, I guess I do….” “You know what, this sounds like exactly what I need to do.  Like right now.  Is it possible?....”  Thirty minutes later, Steve finds me at my post, sporting a huge smile and what we like to call the “Confession Afterglow”.  “Steve, I just want to thank you for being here for me tonight, and for helping me get ready for this.  It went exactly like you said.  I feel reborn.  I’m back after being lost for 55 years.  Thank you.”  We give each other a big man hug, with a tear or two noticeable.  Then Steve slips off into the busy by-ways of the great church.

Later, one of the new missionaries, Cindy, passed by my station near the front altar. “How’s it going, Cindy?”  “Oh, Steve, it’s just been amazing!  Almost everything Evelyn told us in the training session this weekend has already happened!”  “Any highlights?”  “Well, there was one person who we got to confession that came back and said exactly what Evelyn said they would.  It was almost like they’d sat in on the training session!”   “What was that?”  “They were lured in by our joy.  ‘This is amazing!’, the woman said.  ‘I’ve never seen Catholics so joyful during Holy Week!  You guys are so loving!  So I said to myself, ‘I need some of that!’ And now I’ve got it too!”

Welcome to the Feast.  One heck of a party.

A missionary

March 26, 2024


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