Katie Lentz had plucked the perfect dress for her Sunday surprise, and the yellow J. Crew frock was dangling in the back of her 1989 Mercedes, bouncing along the highway as the sun streamed in and oldies played on the radio.
The 19-year-old blonde from Quincy, Ill., had just completed her summer internship in Jefferson City, Mo., and she had hatched a plan to surprise her friends there by making a final visit. She set off around 8 a.m. on that Sunday, Aug. 4, and began the two-hour drive so she could go to church one more time with the gang she had worshiped with every week that summer.
When Mary Margaret Gefre’s boyfriend drove her to the train station in their small North Dakota town, the 19-year-old farm girl didn’t tell him where she was headed on that brisk December day, clutching a small bag containing a rosary, her childhood prayer book, a few dresses and a pair of shoes.
It’s 15 below with a wind chill of minus 39 when I arrive at the cathedral tonight. The holy water is partly frozen.
Perched atop Summit Hill in St. Paul, the Cathedral of St. Paul is the mother church of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, a Vatican-appointed National Shrine of the apostle Paul and a towering presence in the capital city.
And tonight, the first Monday of January, it is a refuge for 18 homeless people who will sleep on cots in the basement choir room.
Immediately, I started scheming about how to adorn the bare walls. Left to my own devices, I would’ve headed to the nearest Kohl’s and filled my cart with home décor of the live-love-laugh variety, but Ted urged me to wait.
By taking on something new, consider what is being compromised. Your prayer life? Your family life? Your sleep schedule? Your exercise routine? A “yes” to one commitment requires a “no” to another.
Leaving it all behind at 80 can feel like surrender.