Home » MKLM » Get me to the church on time

Summer 2022 newsletter

 

Joe Loney and Filo Siles, Bolivia

Joe Loney with Father Jorge Acosta at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Newark

Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, located at 654 Summer Avenue in Newark, New Jersey, invited me on behalf of Maryknoll Lay Missioners to speak at all their weekend Masses.

Joyfully, I envision telling the largely Hispanic parishioners about how they can make a real difference in the lives of their sisters and brothers with disabilities in Bolivia. I carefully plan the trip. The NYC subway to Penn Station, then the PATH train to Broad Street Station, then walk just over a mile on Broadway Avenue until I turn right on Summer Avenue. Google Map tells me it should take me just over an hour and 30 minutes, so I give myself two hours to make all the connections.

After travelling under the Hudson River, I get off the PATH train at Broad Street. I consult my cell phone, which shows my location and begin my planned walk. Unexpectedly, I see the arrows telling me to turn to my left. I convince myself that it must be wrong and that the route I planned is correct and continue.

I walk about 35 minutes until I finally realize that something is terribly wrong. The planned landmarks and streets are not appearing. I sit down on a park bench, try to calm myself and look again at the Google map.

Oh no! I have been walking south instead of north! A glance at my watch tells me that I don’t have time to walk to the parish as it is nearly 4 p.m. and the Saturday Mass starts at 4:30 p.m.

Our Lady of Good Counsel parishioners after Mass

There are buses going by, yet I don’t know the routes and I don’t have anything smaller than a $20 bill. I look about and I spot two ladies waiting for a bus. They tell me that I need to take the 27 Bus, which will go north on Broadway Avenue. Asking about the bus fare, they tell me I will need $2 in exact change. I discover 3 quarters in my pocket.

Neither of the ladies has change for my $20 bill. The younger of the two ladies pulls out her purse and takes out $2. She insists that I take it, and I feel really embarrassed. I’m a missioner and I am now dependent upon the charity of a complete stranger.

Thanking her, I see that a 27 Bus is approaching, and I run to catch it. I tell the driver I want to get to Summer Street and Broadway. “Ah,” he calmly tells me, “I can get you to that corner and you need to pay 75 cents.” “Don’t worry,” he adds, “I will tell you when we get to the stop.” I feel relieved, humbled, and sad. God is helping me through the hands of strangers, and now what do I do with the $2 that were just given to me?

Ten minutes later the bus driver drops me off amidst a light rain. I see the street sign for Summer Avenue and plan to look at the house numbers to make sure I am going in the right direction to 654 Summer Avenue. The first house number I see is 105 Summer Avenue. I walk on and experience a tremendous relief when I see that the next house is 125 Summer Avenue.

It is now 4:12 p.m. Continuing, I discover that the house numbers, however, don’t progress that quickly and don’t go up 100 digits for every block I cross. I decide to ask someone if I am headed toward the church. Just down the street I see two ladies chatting on their porch. “Oh yes, Señor. Keep walking straight and go past Elmwood Avenue. It is at least a 15-minute walk.”

It is 4:18. I start to jog. I am sweating under my light rain jacket. The house numbers are going up and finally I get to the 500 block. No visible sign of the church, yet I maintain my faith. It seems like forever, and then I see Elmwood Avenue. I cross and then I see the church at 654 Summer Avenue. It is 4:29 p.m.

Thank you, Lord, for the good counsel received along the way!


Please consider making a special gift to Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ “Walk With Us” campaign, which raises money for the recruitment, training and ongoing support of all of us lay missioners. We can only “walk with” the people here because you are “walking with” us. Thanks to matching gifts, every $100 given to the campaign in effect becomes $150. To donate ONLINE, click the “Walk With Us” button below. Thank you so much for your generosity!

 

Joe Loney Joe Loney
A Maryknoll lay missioner since 1995, Joe Loney oversees a social-inclusion project for persons with disabilities (Avancemos Juntos para la Inclusion Social de las Personas con Discapacidades) in Tacopaya, Entre Rios and Cochabamba, Bolivia. He also works in prison ministry.