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STORIES FROM THE ROAD


September 30, 2000

CATHOLIC KINDNESS

It was around 6:15 p.m. when I got to the southern outskirts of Lexington, South Carolina last night. I needed to find a place to stop soon because it would be getting dark very soon. While riding passed this Catholic church, I got a glimpse of what looked like a picnic shelter in back on the edge of the rear parking lot. I got an impulse to pull in to see if the priest would allow me to pitch my tent under the shelter. This would help me out in two ways because there was a good chance of rain tonight and also I didn't really want to camp out in the woods. For the past week or two, I've been avoiding camping out in the woods because I've been dealing with either poison ivy or oak on my arms. I think that I must have caught it while scrambling in the woods back in New Jersey trying to find my bike in the dark.

The were a lot of cars in the parking lot. I went over to the church but it was empty. It turns out that the Knights of Columbus were holding an Italian Supper. I tried to find the priest at the parsonage but he wasn't there. Somebody told me that he was in having supper. I put my head through the door and called one of the waiters over to see if he could get the priest for me.

Instead of the priest, the church's associate priest came out. The main priest was in the hospital. I introduced myself to the associate priest and asked him if I could use the picnic shelter. It amazed him that I didn't want any money. He gave me permission to camp out and then he asked me if I had my evening meal. I told him that I hadn't. He told me to follow him to the back of the fellowship hall and he would get the cooks to prepare me a meal. Instead of eating outside, the waiters allowed me to sit down with them. The meal was really fantastic and they made sure that I had plenty to eat.

It was around 7:30 p.m. when I had my tent pitched under the picnic shelter and everything in it's place for the night. Around 9:00 p.m. after all of the cars had left, the associate pastor came by to see how I was doing. He wanted to invite me to the early mass tomorrow morning. Also, he wanted to give a little something because he said that my ministry had inspired him. He slipped me some money in a "Green Handshake" and then went back to the parsonage. When I looked at the money with my flashlight, I saw that he had slipped me five- twenty dollar bills.

This was amazing. It was also possibly the biggest donation from one person that I had gotten throughout this year's trip. The donation had come at the right time because earlier in the day I had to stop at a bicycle shop in Columbia, South Carolina to get a new rear wheel. The old one that I had for the past three years had finally worn out and I had already two spokes break on me.




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