Main | Tuesday, July 20, 2004

St. Egbert, Part 2

St. Egbert, Part 1
I followed Father Gallagher up the center aisle of the church and into his office, located behind some heavy curtains to the right of the altar.  The room was suprisingly large, with tall windows that overlooked the recreation field that lay between the church and the adjoining school.
Father Gallagher indicated a row of wooden chairs arranged in front of his desk.
'Jutht take any chair, Joey.'
He moved to the window and rapped on it.  Outside, I could see Sister Dominica gather up a small group of boys and herd them towards the church.  A minute later, they all joined us inside.  
Sister Dominica was one of the three nuns assigned to St.Egbert.  She, Sister Angelina and Sister Teresina were all from Argentina.  Much like the Baptists send missionaries to the wilds of Africa, the Argentine Catholic Church sent nuns to the heathen wilds of rural North Carolina. 
Of course, to ME , this was perfectly ordinary.  In my world, ALL nuns were from Argentina, spoke almost indecipherable English and had faint, but perceptible mustaches. 
I adored the nuns, as did all of the kids.  Sister Angelina was my favorite, anytime she saw me I got a huge hug and a tussle of my hair.  Sister Teresina, a stern disciplinarian, was the most remote of the three. 
During Sunday school we never suffered the legendary crack of a nun's ruler on our knuckles. No, at St. Egbert,  the unflappable Sister Teresina dealt with inattentive students by applying a quick but painful twist of the earlobe.  Punishment seemed to fall disproportionately on us younger kids.  Sunday school was taught in one large, all-ages class.  The younger kids, who weren't even reading yet, were even more easily bored and distracted than the older ones were.  And that's saying something.
Sister Dominica was the head nun, and as such was in charge of important ceremonies, as I was about to learn.
She and Father Gallagher conferred in a corner of the room while the other boys tooks their seats next to me. They were all about my age and I had seen them around St. Egbert, but I didn't really know them.  The five of us sat there and sized each other up until Father Gallagher and Sister Dominica were ready.

Father Gallagher came around and sat on the front of his desk, his legs dangling.  I'd never seen him behave so informally. Sister Dominica stood next to him.

'Boyth,  you are about enter a new and wonderouth thtage in your relationthip with God,'  Father Gallagher intoned.

The other boys and I shared a look of puzzlement.

Father Gallagher continued, 'Thithter Dominica is going to thpend the next thix weekth teaching you the thacrements of the Holy Church.'

Sister Dominica stepped closer to us.

'Beginning next week you will be attending Communion class every Wednesday evening.  Your parents will have you here by 6PM.  Your parents will take you home at 8PM.  This you will do for six weeks,'  she commanded.

It didn't seem like we had any say in the matter.  I wondered if my mom already knew about this.  Then Sister Dominica smiled as if she were about reveal an exciting secret.

'And on Easter Sunday, the holiest of days, before the entire parish, you will taste the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ.' 

What? GROSS!  The other boys and I exchanged worried looks. 

'But first you will learn about another holy sacrament, confessing your sins to God.  This you will learn beginning next week. I will see you all again on Wednesday.'

Sister Dominica swept out of the room, leaving a whiff of lilac in her wake. The other boys got up and trailed after her.  I was following them when Father Gallagher caught me at the door.

'Wait a minute, Joey,' he said, closing the door.

'There'th one thpecial thing I have here that ith jutht for you,'  he said, reaching into the folds of his robe.

-To Be Continued-



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