I’m in the midst of a retreat with Father Groeschel at the Trinity Retreat Center in Larchmont, New York. The rose garden in the back is spectacular, as is the entire setting of the water-front estate given to Fr. Groeschel to run as a retreat for priests by Cardinal Cooke in 1974. “And all I wanted to do is live with the poor! How did I end up here for 36 years?” he asked me today as we sat looking at the garden and the afternoon light off the inlet of Long Island Sound.
Father Groeschel is the kind of man who you both feel completely comfortable with and, at the same time, a bit nervous around. Why? You get the sense that he notices everything and misses nothing.
So today as we said our evening prayers and recited the Rosary, it turned to me to lead the Second Glorious Mystery, “The Ascension.” As I got to about the fourth “Hail Mary,” I got confused about how I was holding the beads. Was I moving my finger after I finished the Hail Mary, or before. In other words, I wasn’t sure where I was in the sequence of ten Hail Marys. I started worrying I was going to do only
nine, or even worse, eleven.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
Sign up to get Crisis articles delivered to your inbox daily
I didn’t want to screw up the Rosary sitting next to Father Groeschel!
There was no place to hide: It was just me, John Klink, Father Groeschel, and his assistant, Jose.
But I pressed intrepidly on, through the beads I went, not sure whether I was going to be one short or one long. Then I thought of looking at John’s rosary. Fortunately his fingers were clearly pressed against the ninth bead as I was saying that Hail Mary — he saw me check his finger position against my own, and smiled. He knew
exactly what was going on.
We finished the Rosary, and Father Groeschel invited us in for a glass of wine, some cheese and crackers, as is his custom in the evening before he goes to bed. But before he went to his room, I made him tell me about his visit with Walker Percy on the porch of his home in Covington, LA.
I will tell that story tomorrow…..