“A day of prayer will be offered for Audrey Lavin” read the note from our new bud, Mother Angelica. Not the kind of message this nice Jewish girl usually receives.
My husband Carl and I met the Reverend Mother Mary Angelica by accident at the Hotel Los Espanoles in Santiago, Chile. What immediately drew us together was not exactly psychic recognition or spiritual conversation, though until recently, Madre Angelica broadcast a spiritual message each week on Eternal Word Television Network, which she had founded. No, what drew us together was the fact that the three of us were speaking English.
Contrary to what many tourists think, everyone does not speak English all over the world, certainly not in the small sea-side town of Puerto Montt, Chile, where Carl and I had been living. After a month or so of stumbling around in Spanish, it was a pleasure for us to be in the capital city and hear our own language spoken with our own easily understood, mid-western accents.
Carl and I were taking a week-end’s infusion of big city life after a period of working in Puerto Montt, sometimes called the back-packing capital of the world. Actually only Carl was working. He was the International Executive Service Corps consultant for the Ganasur Meat Processing Company. I was supposed to be teaching at the local university. When I got to Puerto Montt with half my baggage in text books, I found my ‘university’ was more of a fishing trade school than an academic college and had absolutely zero need of or interest in any of my specialties. It happens.
So there we were that lovely February day (as latitude 42 south runs through Puerto Montt and latitude 42 north runs through Cleveland, so February in Ohio equals August in Chile) experimenting with a crisp Chilean vino blanco and un sandwich de jamon y queso. It was a late lunch even for Chile, and we were the only ones in the charming, below street level restaurant, when in walked a large, commanding nun, wearing the brown habit of the Franciscan order. Surrounded by interviewers and flood lights, she was nothing like the (almost) nun we were most familiar with, Julie Andrews in Sound of Music.
When the Reverened Mother’s entourage dispersed, the three of us who remained started chatting in the way that mid-westerners will. It turned out, as these things never do, that Madre Angelica was from Canton, Ohio; so were we. Not just from Canton. Both she and Carl were born there. Not many Chilean tourists could say that! She had been instrumental in the growth of the Santa Clara Monastery, walking distance from our house. She asked us to stop by to give the nuns who lived there a message of love and blessings from her. We said we would and, of course, some time later, we did.
Madre Angelica started to reminisce about what she missed from Canton, which brought about more coincidences, if not conclusive proof that we were soul-mates. What she really missed was Sugardale hot dogs.
At that time, Carl was president of the Sugardale Provision Company.
Here is part of a letter he sent to her when she and we returned to the States: “Dear Mother Angelica, when you mentioned you hadn’t had a good hot dog since leaving Canton and Sugardale territory, our hearts went out to you. No one should have to go through life deprived of quality hot dogs. Therefore, to at least temporarily assuage the deprivation, we are enclosing a few pounds of Sugardale hot dogs. We hope they arrive in good health and that you remain in good health for many years to come to carry on your good works.”
In return, the nuns of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Birmingham, Alabama, offered a day of prayer for us. It included Remembrance at Mass, Divine Office, Rosary, Adoration Hour, and Prayerful Good Wishes.
Fair Trade, we thought.