Rumor had it that the boss found a new gig, playing any of her variety of wind instruments every other Saturday on the stoop of Sacred Heart Church in St. Paul, which basically has three addresses, Ron Ryan Jr. Boulevard, Sinnen Street and, most conventionally, 840 E. Sixth St., as in the heart of the East Side.
In the summer of 2020, when it feels like the soul has left the body of the nation and charred is the new urban motif, it seemed important to check on the boss, to not lose sight of the goodness still around us in small but important ways, and the good people who devote their lives to the service of others.
The boss waved as I walked across the parking lot. She was dressed for the chill of a brilliant morning that was sending out an unmistakable warning about autumn. Not far away was Sister Jean Ersfeld, working the keyboard on her 465 Sound ToneBank Casio electric piano. Lets call it serenading. The nature of Sacred Heart has changed with the times and is now most significantly home to a large Hispanic community. It was a food pickup last Saturday morning, and a line of cars drove past the open end of a big rental truck and people were taking dairy and produce and dry goods. Food. Not quite water turned to wine, but close enough if the kids are hungry.
Who qualifies? I asked the boss.
No questions asked, the boss said.
I looked up at the words engraved in granite on the front of the church.
Does Iglesia Del Sagrado Corazon mean Sacred Heart?
I hope so, the boss said.
Her name is Lynore Girmscheid. She and Sister Jean are members of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, my favorite order of nuns, not counting the Daughters of Charity, because they featured that heavily starched cornette that suggested they were wearing a fixed wing for takeoff. The SSND rose in the rankings after a couple of SSND stalwarts wrote to me wondering if the Crabby Coffee Shop was real. Sister Jean is the musical director at Sacred Heart. When Jerry Lowe, a deacon at Sacred Heart and a connected fellow with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, organized the food made available with the help of Target and Costco and others, Sister Jean thought she and Lynore might spice it up with a little salsa and a hymn or two if they were lively enough.
Times are tough around here, Lowe, who is 84, told me. We do what we can do. Every other week, we do the same service at Incarnation Church in Minneapolis.
The musicians, of course, dont charge a cent. They take the edge off what might be a burdensome errand for those in need and introduce a note of festivity. The pickup runs from 8 to 10 a.m., and people can check their bulletins for the schedule.
I can call Lynore boss with accuracy. For years, she was the liturgical director at Lumen Christi in Highland Park and for reasons that still baffle me, I ended up on her decorating crew as hard labor. I hauled wreathes up from the storage tunnels under the church, moved ladders around and fed spools of lights to a guy actually on the ladder. She was a good boss and often sprung us laborers early so we wouldnt miss the kickoff.
The boss has always been the inclusive type and wanted me to meet Prisciliano Maya, who is the Spanish Mass minister. Thats what she does. She works the room and gets to know people. If I hadnt brushed off college-level Spanish so many years ago, I could have had a chat with Prisciliano.
That vast asphalt parking lot now humming with graciousness? On Aug. 26, 1994, St. Paul police officer Ron Ryan Jr. responded to a man sleeping in a car in the same Sacred Heart parking lot. As Ryan approached the car, Guy Harvey Baker shot Ryan dead and then stole the officers gun. A few hours later, the same guy killed officer Timothy Jones and his police canine, Laser. A dark, dark day. It was everybody on deck at the Pioneer Press. I hadnt been back since.
You know about the parking lot, boss?
I know, she said. I know.
And then she returned to her music. Its what she has to give.
Joe Soucheray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Soucherays Garage Logic podcast can be heard at garagelogic.com.
Originally posted here:
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