Most Sundays I take my mom to church because she’s older and doesn’t drive anymore, and it’s a good excuse to spend some time with her. I have mixed feelings about the Catholic Church, which is a whole other story, but sometimes I wonder if I would attend church if it weren’t for my mother.
And then I run into Jim Malone.
Jim has been an usher at 9 o’clock Sunday Mass probably for eons. He’s in his 80s, but his sense of humor keeps him young. Or his inner youth makes him funny. Not sure how that works. Jim doesn’t just greet people. He hands out specially decorated church bulletins (known as “The Dome” after Ascension Church’s most distinctive architectural detail). The bulletin is outlined with several different colors of marker (pastel pink and purple during the Easter season) and stickers (smiley faces and hearts). It’s his artistic contribution to the proceedings, a little flourish to make the event special.
On May 10, he added his own text: “Today is Mother’s Day, a day to honor mothers living and remembering those deceased. Those who have mothers living, I envy you. You can see her once in awhile and give her a call [that last part underlined in marker with a heart sticker]. I sure wish I could call mine.”
When he sees my mom, he leans in and says to her, “We’re old enough to kiss each other. We don’t care if people talk. Let ’em talk. A little scandal’s a good thing once in awhile.”
When I ask, “How are you, Jim?” he replies with a smile, “I’m going to make it.”
In other words, he’s a delight, a ray of sunshine, pick your clich. He makes your day. I have all kinds of issues with the Church, but then I think, if you judge an institution by the people who attend it, you’d have to think the Catholic Church ?#34; or at least this Catholic Church ?#34; is a pretty good place to be.
I think that as I look around at the quality people I see walking past during communion: Regina Kuehn, Pat and Char McAnany, Doug and Barbara Wyman, Don and Celine Woznica, Dan and Carol Doody, Rosemarie and Tom Nowicki, Catherine and Joe Krickel, the Devereuxs, the McNichols, the O’Briens. And, of course, Jim Malone. So many high-caliber people.
These are the Catholic Church’s best advertisements.