IAUSA Irish Apostolate

An Immigrant's Musings - April 2014

 

ON BECOMING A U.S. CITIZEN 

  

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On Ash Wednesday March 5th, I was sworn in as a Citizen of the USA. It was a day of celebration for me and I was proud to have three close friends join me for the occasion.

  

Assembled in the auditorium at the USCIS office on W. Congress Parkway with me, were 135 other individuals young and older from 45 countries in all. (I was the only candidate from Ireland present).

  

It was a very moving ceremony and I felt blessed to be part of this great nation that I am proud to call home. I will never forget my Irish roots and the folks I hold dear back in Co. Clare. I plan to stay in County Cook for the foreseeable future, but when "the clash of the ash" is heard and seen in this years hurling championship, I will as always shout for and cheer on "The Banner County".

  

As I looked around the room waiting for the ceremony to commence, I was struck by the great variety of faces and distinctive garb of many of my fellow citizens. The thought struck me, this is truly a real slice of the America that I know and love. Here around me were Christian and Jews, Muslims and Sikhs and no doubt people who practice no formal religion. And that is part of what makes the USA such a special place to live. When I took the test to become a citizen, the first question the officer asked me was; what is freedom of religion? Surprise, surprise I answered correctly, it is the freedom to practice any religion or not practice a religion. I thought wouldn't our world be much more at peace if every nation signed on to that fundamental principle.

  

On leaving the ceremony I stopped to fill out a voter registration card and I look forward to exercising that right in local, state and national elections. Over the past thirty years I have lived, worked or studied in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and since 2003 made Chicago home, so for me now there is no going back I'm proud to call myself a citizen of the USA and look forward to what this new chapter will bring. 

 

Fr. Michael Leonard, Chaplain

Chicago Irish Immigrant Support

 

 

  

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WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND

 

One day a man saw an old lady, stranded on the side of the road, but even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her.

 

Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn't look safe; he looked poor and hungry. He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was those chills which only fear can put in you. He said, "I'm here to help you, ma'am. Why don't you wait in the car where it's warm? By the way, my name is Bryan Anderson."

 

Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old lady, that was bad enough. Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able to change the tire. But he had to get dirty and his hands hurt.

 

As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from St. Louis and was only just passing through. She couldn't thank him enough for coming to her aid.

 

Bryan just smiled as he closed her trunk. The lady asked how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her. She already imagined all the awful things that could have happened had he not stopped. Bryan never thought twice about being paid. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need, and God knows there were plenty, who had given him a hand in the past. He had lived his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to act any other way.

 

He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance they needed, and Bryan added, "And think of me."

 

He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for home, disappearing into the twilight.

 

A few miles down the road the lady saw a small cafe. She went in to grab a bite to eat, and take the chill off before she made the last leg of her trip home. It was a dingy looking restaurant. Outside were two old gas pumps. The whole scene was unfamiliar to her. The waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole day couldn't erase. The lady noticed the waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude. The old lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Bryan.

 

After the lady finished her meal, she paid with a hundred dollar bill. The waitress quickly went to get change for her hundred dollar bill, but the old lady had slipped right out the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came back. The waitress wondered where the lady could be. Then she noticed something written on the napkin.

 

There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady wrote: "You don't owe me anything. I have been there too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I'm helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do, do not let this chain of love end with you." Under the napkin were four more $100 bills.

 

Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. How could the lady have known how much she and her husband needed it? With the baby due next month, it was going to be hard... She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, "Everything's going to be all right. I love you, Bryan Anderson."

 

There is an old saying "What goes around comes around."

 

Author: Unknown

 

 

 

  

Should you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact me at: sliabhanoir@yahoo.com or 773-282-8445.

 

 

  

  

 
 

 

YOU CAN FIND FR. LEONARD'S "MUSINGS" FOR THIS PAST YEAR ON THE CHICAGO IRISH IMMIGRANT SUPPORT WEBSITE:   

 

 

 

The Irish Apostolate USA is the umbrella organization for the Irish Immigration Pastoral and Outreach Centers in the United States, under the direction of the Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants. 

Please visit our website for more information:    Irish Apostolate USA 
Geri Garvey, Administrator
Irish Apostolate USA
Phone/Fax:  301-384-3375     Email: administrator@usairish.org