Above the trendy fashion stores, the award winning restaurants, the art studios, and the boutique gyms of SoHo, in tiny apartments that are like true time capsules, are a hidden number of elderly who have lived in this neighborhood since the early forties. Meeting them was to encounter a lively faith and step into the era of the “greatest generation.” Here are a few of their stories that I had the delight to listen to when I brought them Communion today.
Rocco, 99 years old, WWII Vet, faithfully married to his wife Sue for over 75 years. On the wall hangs their First Communion certificates from their childhood, their wedding photo, and a papal blessing from Saint JPII for their fiftieth wedding anniversary.
“What can I pray for?” I ask another elderly lady, confined to her wheelchair and on dialysis. “Oh, I’m perfectly fine,” she says, “Let’s pray for my family and for all these young people out there; they are all out so late, I just worry about them.”
Another visit to a bedridden lady who tells me: “Good morning! I am so glad you are here. I’ve got no complaints. God is so good. Everything is in his hands.”
While standing on the street for another visit I ring the buzzer to enter the locked building and hear, “Father, I’m gonna open the window and throw down the key.” Sure enough, the window opens several floors up and the key comes flying out, perfectly tossed, right into my hands on the busy street below.
Finally, one elderly lady grabs both of my hands and slips me a five dollar bill. “Here, this is from the heart, because you brought me the greatest gift ever, Jesus.”