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NYC Holy Week Missions, Day 2

“I feel like I’m home”

St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, SoHo, March 27, 2018.  Cold, damp night in SoHo.  The Lumen men are here in force, manning Prince and Mott.  Back of the church covered.  Holy priests ready to go.  Doug arrives from uptown.  He and another missionary head out into the emerging darkness, Houston and Mulberry.  Heavy traffic.  People are streaming by so fast we need to develop a different rhythm to capture souls.  The missionary excitedly tells Doug, “This is like panning for gold in a fast moving stream!  It’s the law of large numbers.  Sooner or later, a Catholic will appear!”  Soon, overwhelmed by the human flood, we take to standing in the center of the river, joyful and confident.  “Catholics?  Any Catholics here?”  People begin to self identify.  We lock eyes, they swim to an eddy in the stream nearer the shop to our right, and encounters ensue.  Fortunately, we are so far from the church, there is more time to chat as we walk them in.  Some of the least likely to be Catholic are among the captured.  A homeless man in wheel chair, Billy.  He’s living at the Bowry shelter but needs help getting to the church to light a candle; one of the missionaries pushes him in.  Mary, a young and attractive writer struggling to get going, working as an accountant at a nearby insurance company.  Hasn’t been to confession “in years.”  She introduces herself, and when she shakes the missionaries  hand she’s sold.  “My goodness!  Your hand is like an ice cube!  You’re frozen!  What are you doing out here!”  “I’ve been waiting for you Mary.”  Together, they take the long walk to church and the sacrament.   Doug finds George.  Long time away from the Faith.   Walks him in.  Doug is gone for nearly 30 minutes.  “What happened?” the missionary is asking.  “I know Doug.  He would not have given up.  I hope he’s ok.”  Doug finally returns.  “George had big issues Steve.  He asked me to stay with him and pray.  We were praying together in front of the Lord.”  Finally, Billy arrives.  “Steve, I’m not sure what I am.  I was baptized a Catholic, but then raised a Protestant.  I kind of go to both churches.”  “Well that’s terrific Billy.  We’re all followers of Christ!  How about we go light a candle.”  Over the course of the long walk, Billy talks about his life and how he needs something more.  “You are seeking the eternal, Billy.  Your are seeking the heart of Jesus inside of you.”  We arrive at the church.  By now, George is heading to one of our priests for confession.   “Steve, it feels right in here.  I feel like I’m home.”

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A missionary