Irish American News column August 2015

Iraqi Worshippers Pray For Pope John Paul II



Mike Houlihan

After twelve years of being a widow Angela Delaney felt like she was finally hitting her stride. Her late husband Tony had left her enough dough, not a fortune but enough where she didn’t have to work. That was important to her because if she had to work there wouldn’t be as much time for her to pray.

Tony had been killed crossing Western avenue after closing Ken’s one rainy night when an honor student from Lindblom wacked him with his 96 Buick. Tony never knew what him.

Angela had prayed about that night often, asking our Lord to go back in time and make sure Tony felt no pain. God can do that of course and for every rosary Angie offered up for Tony that Roadmaster picked up speed until it was only a blur out of the corner of Tony’s eye.

So Tony was at peace.

And so was Angie. Oh sure at first it was tough without Tony, but she started sleeping late and going to daily noon mass at Barnabas instead of the 6:30AM mass she and Tony used to hit every morning when he was alive. She would lead the rosary group before mass and then the Our Lady of Perpetual Help novena after mass and then of course adoration in the chapel adjacent to the church each day. She’d get home every day just in time to watch Jeopardy.

She would take a nap then till the early news came on and then she’d fix herself some dinner, tuna melt on an English muffin and half a cookie for dessert. She’d break out the cigs and beers around nine as she racked up rosary after rosary while watching Mother Angelica on EWTN and then would hit the hay around 3AM, unless the Pope was doing a mass live from the Vatican. She never missed those. Next day she would get up and do it all over again.

Angie was the leader of her rosary group every day and she doled out the decade assignments to the rosary regulars and joined them in prayer over their special intentions, i.e., Eloise’s sister with the mastoid, Rosemary’s husband Earl with the porn addiction, or almost anyone who had an alkie in the family that needed their prayers.

There was quite a bit of responsibility as rosary leader. You had to know which mysteries to say on each particular day, whether the five joyful mysteries, the five luminous mysteries, the five sorrowful mysteries or the five glorious mysteries. You had to dole out the decades to the faithful followers and welcome new people to the group.

Visitors often showed up to pray with the group but Angie usually waited a good six months for them to be there every day before assigning them a decade to lead.

Angie did not suffer fools well and she had that rosary group humming like a well-oiled machine and Father Foley had even complimented her on their precision at always finishing the rosary almost exactly three minutes before mass started.

And then one day an interloper showed up by the name of Kathy Boyle, an ex-nun who seemed to enjoy throwing her considerable weight around.

She had dyed red hair and a high-pitched nasal voice that had trouble pronouncing the letter R.

She kind of announced her presence one day as she flopped into a pew and shouted out, “The first Joyful Mystewy, the Wezuwection.”

Rosemary turned to Angie with a look of complete shock on her face as her jaw dropped at the pure effrontery of Kathy thinking she could just jump in and start leading the rosary. The rest of the group was equally shocked, particularly Harold the old Filipino guy who silently messed his pants that day

But Angie remained serene throughout and each time she tried to begin the next decade, Kathy Boyle would cut her off with a ridiculously shortened version of “Ave Mawia”, before tearing into the next mystery.

After mass, when Kathy left, the rest of the group all went to Angie and expressed their dismay at this usurpation. Angie just smiled, “Now, now, what would Our Lord say. We just have to be patient and it will all work out.”

Of course inside she was seething. Especially when Kathy showed up the next day and started in on the same routine. Kathy just kept coming every day for the next three weeks. Rosemary would always look at Angie with her eyes wide as if to say, “Good Lord please shut this fat slob up!”

It started to wear on Angie, she felt like she might be getting an ulcer and she wondered if she should find a new parish to say the rosary. Angie decided to pray for Kathy, perhaps a novena to our Lady to, at the very least, improve her diction.

And then one day Kathy wasn’t there and all the members of the rosary group looked to Angie and smiled as she announced, “The First Joyful Mystery, The Annunciation.”

Angie was back in her groove and all was well once again at the St. Barnabas rosary circle. A week later Rosemary turned to the group just as they finished the rosary and said, “Did you hear about Kathy Boyle?”

Nobody had even mentioned that name and they were anxious to hear the news. Rosemary leaned back in her pew, “Apparently she was hit by a car, a Buick Roadmaster. She never knew what hit her.”

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