The college kids were home on break. One brought her roommate, who lived too far away to travel home for the week. Our high school kids had classes during the day but the whole group hung out together at night, making a ridiculous amount of noise. I loved it.
On Sunday morning, we went to Mass. We had to separate the oldest and youngest kids, ages 20 and 14, because they got laughing so hard during the homily that everyone else started giggling, too. We made the mandatory stop for doughnuts on the way home, arriving at the house just as more teenagers pulled into the driveway. My kids’ friends often stop by on Sunday mornings to help us eat the donuts. They’re so thoughtful.
Before I knew it, the sun was setting. I did a quick head count for dinner and I came up with nine people. Perfect.
Well, sort of. Math whiz that I am, I miscounted. Okay, fine – I forgot one of my own kids. The kid wasn’t very happy when she came to the table and found no place to sit. Not to mention that there was no food on her nonexistent plate. She thinks family dinners are dumb, anyway, so this didn’t help my case.
We were about to say grace when 19-year-old Meredith announced that she’d learned a new grace at college, set to music. We groaned and rolled our eyes. This is a kid who thinks Gregorian chant is the coolest music ever, especially if it’s in Latin. I could just imagine what this new grace sounded like.
I needn’t have worried. Meredith launched into, "Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts . . ." to the lilting tune of the "Gilligan’s Island" theme song. Pretty cool.
We passed the food around. The youngest kid carefully counted slices of garlic bread to be sure she got her fair share. She never does that with broccoli.
Then someone posed a question.
"Suppose you were given $5,000 to spend on yourself. What would you do with it?"
Discussion began immediately. Most of us had no trouble thinking up ways to spend the money. "I’d take that trip to Ireland that I’ve always dreamed of," said a college kid right away.
"I’d buy a really nice iPod – finally!" said the broccoli kid. "And lots and lots and lots of music, and a big spending spree at the mall! Oh, and a hot tub!"
"You can’t get all that for $5,000!" the others yelled.
"Yes, I can," she insisted.
My husband said he’d build a soundproof room. I’m not sure if he wants to blast opera withoutbothering us, or block out the sounds of his family so he can finally get some quiet. Hey, whatever makes him happy.
Two kids remained silent for the longest time. It turns out that they couldn’t think of anything. "Um, well, I’d buy a skirt for school," one finally began. "Oh, and a new toothbrush, and maybe some socks, and a chocolate bar."
"Isn’t there anything big youwant?" someone prodded in amazement.
"Well, I might buy a few CD’s," she added.
It was the same with the other kid. All she came up with was a pair of jeans, a baseball cap and some bottled water for her dorm room. When pressed, she said she might splurge on an ice cream sundae.
Someone brought out chocolate chip cookies while others bickered about whose turn it was to do the dishes. In the midst of the commotion, the visiting roommate remarked quietly to no one in particular, "I wish my family had dinner together like this."
At the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip.
At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”