My dear friend Lucie invited me to spend Easter with her in Denver, Colorado with the Community of the Beatitudes:
Sister Nikki is the first person I meet. She walks up to us, tall dressed in an all-white habit. I imagine her wearing hiking books and being outdoors leading a group into the Grand Canyon. Her lips blue from eating the principal's birthday cake at the Catholic School where she teaches gym.
Sister Annie is from Senegal, even when she is not smiling, she is smiling, her joy hidden just beneath the surface.
Sophie is from France, she used to work for Luis Vuitton before she left her job to spend a year discerning what God wants for her life. Maria is Sophie's close friend. They both wear white bubble jackets so Lucie and I joke that they are like two marshmallows walking along together, never separated. She is Vietnamese and a huge clown. Even in Easter Mass she is giggling and smiling mischievously.
Marcello, Hank, Randy and Andre are the men in the School of Life in the community. It is inspiring to see such prayerful men. Marcello is Brazilian, handsome and always put together. He wants to become a priest. Hank is quiet but when he talks, he talks without embarrassment about how Jesus saved him when he was 21. Randy is always chatting and kidding around. He wears an American flag tie to the Easter Vigil mass. On Holy Saturday, Andre stays until the church is empty, his head down in prayer.
Clotilde is taller than most of the men, her eyes soft and light. She makes icons, many of which hang around the chapel and are sold in the church.
Jud and his wife Mariane are the quiet backbone of the church. Mariane shows me how to sponge up the Holy Water from the marble bowls around the church so we can clean them out. Jud's eyes tell you he is strong and loves his faith. He used to be a Hindu until Mary called him to the Catholic faith.
Father Nathaniel is young, his eyes like a cat. He gives a homily on Holy Thursday that moves me to tears. He brings the Blessed Sacrament to the "Garden of Gethsemane" and remains, on his knees, his head tilted in silent prayer for several hours.
Father Sebastien is the pastor of the church, his head shaved bald - he is a force to be reckoned with. Everyone around him waits in delighted anticipation of the next antic he is going to pull. He is unpredictable, intuitive and strong.
Father John is full of the joy and strength of the Holy Spirit. He gives a homily in half Spanish and half English, never losing his train of thought. His words are not just words, they are feelings. In his Easter homily, he brings us through the pain and death of Jesus to the Resurrection not just in our minds but with the feelings of our hearts.
Thank you Lord for the beautiful example of what our Catholic faith can look like. Rooted in the power of the Eucharist, this community overflows in the richness of God.