Thursday, September 21, 2006

PROUD TO BE CATHOLIC by Kathi Scarpace

A few months ago we had a series of presentations and activities in my parish. One of the evenings was, “Proud To Be Catholic.” The speaker was a well-known priest who was knowledgeable in apologetics and the Scriptures.

The evening was prompted by the experience of some parishioners, including young people, who found themselves on the defensive end of conversations with fellow Christians. The priest was very engaging, and people responded well to his presentation.

The topic was interesting to me. It made me think about why I was proud to be Catholic. There are many things to be proud of: our apostolic succession, the gifts of the sacraments, Sacred Tradition, the great theologians and saints throughout history, our liturgies, the great churches we have built, the great art we have sponsored, the tradition of spirituality and so on.

I am proud of all these things and happy I am a Catholic.

These things actually did not come to mind when I started to think about why I am proud to be a Catholic. What I thought of was a little church in a small town in South Carolina.

This town was the county seat of what was the third-poorest county in the United States. I was a parishioner in the mid-seventies, relatively soon after school integration. (In fact the local hardware store still had signs “White” and “Colored” in their inventory.)

I am proud to be Catholic because that little church was integrated. Both white families and African-American families worshiped together easily each Sunday. No other church in the community did so (although the “black churches” always welcomed whites).

Sunday after Sunday, we would stand visiting after Mass in front of church, a visible sign of the reign of God.

The next thing that came to mind about being proud to be Catholic happened this summer. Our parish serves a meal to hungry people in one of the local parks about once a month.

I was sitting at the table eating when I overheard one homeless person say to another, “Sacred Heart Church always helps you if you need it.” The woman was not speaking to me nor do I believe she knew that the meal was being served by that parish. She was just commenting on the state of help in the community.

I felt proud again to be Catholic.

There are a lot of great things about being a Catholic.

What makes you proud?

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