KANSAS CITY, MO. -- After 28 years of dedicated leadership serving the economically impoverished here, a local icon -- known by many by his white beard and seemingly constant stream of flannel shirts -- has left the Catholic Worker community that he sometimes single-handedly sustained for the past three decades.
When I got to church last Sunday, the two grandchildren I expected to see were already there. Tom, 11, is always easy to spot because of his bright red, curly hair. He wore his cream-color altar robe and waited with the two other servers for the entrance procession. Blonde Barbara, 6, was busy filling baskets with cans of vegetables and boxed foods. The children of the church would carry the baskets in the offertory procession. It was the first Sunday of the month, time to replenish the church’s food pantry.
Our deacon greeted me and said Tom had told him his other grandma was there. I found a seat near the front with Donna, the children’s mom, and her mom, the Barbara for whom young Barbara was named. Donna’s sister, Diane, and her little ones, Ian and Mirabelle, joined us. We had a pewful -- lots of friendly eyes to watch the family’s new server.
I slip my hands into the wrist straps of my new Nordic walking sticks and head for a chapel a few blocks from the house that has held my life for 40 years. The morning is full of blue sky, sunshine and chilly March breezes.
Yellow and white daffodils sway in almost every yard. Yellow blossoms like stringy four-pointed stars cling to slim forsythia branches. Delicate white blooms of Bradford pear trees seem to have come out overnight.