Where’s Uncle Louis when you need him?

Sometimes being the leader has its pitfalls.

I have mentioned before that as the minister of my Secular Franciscan fraternity, it falls to me to be the meeting leader. I find this difficult because of the age difference among our members. It’s uncomfortable for me to try to get people who could be my grandmother to stay on topic, when they take a stroll down Memory Lane in the middle of ongoing formation or the business meeting.

In our fraternity we have a lovely older woman who resembles “Aunt Bethany” from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation more and more with each passing minute. We all love her, and we all understand the medical conditions that she suffers with, that cause her to lose track of conversations.

Last night was no exception. We got through formation and the business meeting and then we listened to a report on a wonderful workshop that one of our members attended last month, in Loreto, PA. Then it was time for the closing prayer (that’s my job). So I began. “Let us pray.” Everyone settled down. Just as I was about to begin the prayer, Aunt Bethany piped up, “What county in Pennsylvania did you say St. Francis University is located in?”

About four people simultaneously corrected her: “Aunt Bethany! We’re PRAYING!”

I just sat there trying my hardest not to laugh, or look at anyone, because all I could think of was Uncle Louis with his toupee falling off, yelling, “The BLESSING! They want YOU to say the BLESSING!”

I swear it was only by the grace of God that I was able to get through that prayer with any kind of composure at all. But sometimes, just like when you deal with children, it’s more charitable to see the humor than to lose your patience.

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