A few days ago I went with Megan to visit the Tacoma Catholic Worker a second time. I plan to visit them every week, now.
I felt a little less awkward, a little more comfortable getting to know folks this time. I talked with Harlan for a while, and discovered that he had been at Guadalupe House for fifteen years and at another Worker house for twelve years prior to that. Father Bix has been there since the founding of the Tacoma Worker (25 years ago?), and they have other volunteers who have been around for many, many years. What experience! I could only dream of the day when Bread & Roses has a staff with such longevity. At Guadalupe this longevity breeds a comfort with the work, the guests, and among the staff that is not only visible in the interactions between the staff, but that also permeates the whole atmosphere of the House. They have a culture, and traditions, and a history upon which their community rests.
At the staff gathered to plan the evening. They assigned tasks, discussed the menu, planned for the liturgy, and ended with a prayer. At the doors opened, and for the next half hour there was little to do but socialize with the guests and volunteers. At we were called to gather for the service, led by a woman named Mary. The service opened with a prayer, followed by readings from scripture, and Mary’s lecture on the life and works of St. Vincent de Paul. Then Mary began to bless a loaf of bread and a pitcher of grape juice.
Mary announced that “here at Guadalupe House we have a tradition of open Communion. The only requirement to partake of the sacraments is that you have a desire to accept Christ into your heart.”
As the bread and the juice came around, I took it with a little eager grin on my face, like a child accepting a forbidden cookie offered in secret by his grandmother. I was so incredibly grateful.