Fr. Ostrowski, Baptism and Rum Candy

When we were living in Dravosburg my father came home one day and declared to the family that we were going to become Catholic.  It was 1962.  I was eleven and Renee was 9.
Dad didn’t tell us why, he just said it was.  I think it was a Holy Spirit moment.  My mother apparently didn’t give him an argument because the next thing I knew, Renee and I were told to report to the rectory of St. Peter’s Church in McKeesport after school each day for instructions.
Mom and dad were to go in the evenings while Renee and I watched our siblings, Tommy age 4 and Denise age 2.  Renee and I were pretty good babysitters.  I mean, we had a lot of practice.
I was very excited about the idea.  I can’t explain it, but all of my short life, I wanted to be a Catholic.  I had it in my head that one day I would become a nun and a  great saint. (Oh the thoughts of children. . .hmmm)
I think I was much more excited about this than Renee.  It was the fall and winter of the year and the weather was really cold.  I remember waiting and waiting for Renee to show up at the rectory.  I’d sit in the hall and Fr. Ostrowski would come out from time to time looking for her.  “Um, well. . .where is that Jimbo?” he’d ask (jimbo was his nickname for her).  We sometimes would wait for over an hour for her to show.  We found out later that she was travelling through the local department store called Misco’s.
Thinking about this move we were about to make, I thought there was no reason that I would want to be Catholic, but somehow the thought of becoming Catholic was a dream come true.  No one ever talked about Catholics around us, as far as I know.  But the desire had come from somewhere, again, I believe a Holy Spirit moment.  I have never regretted it, our move to Catholicism, I just become sad and disillusioned at times.  I felt sometimes that the way I look at people and the world didn’t seem to be the way the Pope and the rest of his friends do.  This feeling has come and gone from time to time. . .but at the heart of it all I love my Catholic faith.  I can’t even begin to think of going elsewhere.  My heart was found by a loving and living God. . .much like the Hound of Heaven, we were found and embraced by the immense love of God.  I find myself saying, Lord to whom shall I go, for You have the words of everlasting life.
I just remember feeling sometimes that it would be wonderful to be Catholic.  It seemed to me that they had it all.  I mean, where else could you go and talk to a priest in a little boxlike room, tell him your sins and have them forgiven just like that???  It was the best possible thing to have!
It’s true that all of us mess up from time to time, sometimes REALLY mess up.  I thought it was so neat to be able to clean it up with God right now before I die.  This way you don’t have to worry that when you die God might not be in a very forgiving or happy mood.  (This is my eleven year old mind. . .of course now my beliefs about God’s mood are much better!!! haha)  After all when you are trying to oversee a whole world and galaxy at one time, you could get a little crabby.
I thought this was the perfect way to talk to God when he was still in a reasonably good mood.  Actually, confession is like writing a letter or using the phone, you get the same results, you just don’t have to worry about looking the person in the face while you do it.  That is what I considered to be a bonus.
Part two coming soon. . .i’ll get to the Baptism and Rum Candy next. . .

Sandy Ozanich (c) May 2013

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