Although the story “Angels in the City” from several years ago was left on the cutting room floor by the editors of “The Missionary of Wall Street”, it’s one that has remained close to my heart.  At its center were three young women from Venezuela.  Venezuela had “coincidentally” been the topic of an investment meeting that morning.  Then, that night, a happy Regnum Christi trio  from this same country arrived at Prince and Mott at just the right moment to volunteer as NYC missionaries.  Completely out of the blue.  We stationed them in front of the church and little miracles happened. 

Fast forward to 2019.  Over this last weekend, within the course of literally a single hour, three key missionaries for Monday night all notified me that they could not make it for unexpected, extraordinary reasons.  I called one of my back-ups, and he couldn’t make it either.  I conferred with  Evelyn, “What should we do?  We will be solo at station 3.”  “Do not be afraid, Steve!  The Lord will provide.”  (Why do I even ask her?)  So the seven of us headed out into the cold and the wind, each to his or her post, with the hot corner on Prince and Mott one missionary short. 

At 5:00, a  beautiful young woman approaches Prince and Mott, beaming.  “Steve, do you remember me?”  “I do.  I remember your face but not your name or the context.”  “I’m Andrea!”, she beamed. “You wrote a story about me and my friends a few years back.  I’ve returned to help you.”  Shortly after, a Lumen brother, Steve Schroeder, also arrived unexpectedly on the corner, and we were fully up and running.  And from there, the little miracles started flowing….

Ricardo and Pedro, two young men from the Bronx in SoHo for the evening, stop for a spiritual pep talk.  They have dreams, one to be a Cello player, the other a financial wizard.  Both are baptized Catholics, but no, “we haven’t been to confession in a while.”  Into the church they head for a pre-Easter cleanup.  Enrique, who speaks only Spanish and is on his way to work, is thrilled to hear that “Todos los padres habla Espanol.  Es possible a confession en Espanol!”  As poor  an imitation of Spanish this is, he takes a right  turn and heads to the church.  Lee Ann, a worried young woman who tried to pull the now familiar maneuver of walking around us rather than engage, got caught at the light on Mott for a chat.  Catholic.  “A while” since she’d been to confession.  “Some things on my mind, for sure.”  About 30 minutes later, she confidently approaches us out on Prince and Mott, light and joyful.  “Thank you for stopping me.  That was beautiful.”

We had the usual array of citizens from around the world stop and talk.  A family from France was with us for some time, as we all cried and prayed for the great cathedral of Notre Dame and all it stands for.  They head to our own little cathedral on Prince and Mott to light candles before the Lord.  Another young couple comes through on their way to dinner and take a detour to the church.  A half hour later, they return to the corner, walking on air.

Steve, who by now has figured out that virtually anyone out in SoHo could prove to need a spiritual engagement, stops Hassan, a young man with a Muslim head dress on, walking to work.  Incredibly, Abdul’s parents were actually Catholic, but years ago he converted to Islam.  We’re not sure how this happened.   We have a joyful conversation about faith and God.  Abdul takes a rosary, similar to Islamic prayer beads, and of course knows of Mary.  We tell him we will pray for him.  He takes a candle to light in the church and pray for us.  “We are all children of God,” we agree.  As usual, we have no idea where this particular journey heads next….

About this time, one of the passing showers we were dealing with out there stops as suddenly as it had started.  And then, up in the sky, a rainbow appears, one arc of which seems to come to rest on the corner of Prince and Mott.  The corner that was un-manned, until it wasn’t.  Until the angels returned.

A missionary

April 15, 2019