As an eight year old boy attending Our Lady of Refuge Catholic Church in Long Beach, I would ride my bike in the morning dark the two miles to serve as an altar boy at the 6:30 weekday mass. Ours was the last class to learn the Latin mass and my memorization of the Confiteor (the “I confess” prayer) was haphazard at best.  Entering the sacristy to don my cassock, old Father Daily would quietly nod at me while smoking a cigarette and reading the sports page.  He had some patience with us boys as we sleepily fumbled over the Latin rite kneeling on the cool stone floor, offering him cruets of water and wine. Sister Miguel would feed us small boxes of cereal and milk after mass since we had left home fasting for the Eucharist. She would finger the large black beads of the rosary which draped about her corpulent torso while we finished our morning repast.  Like the rosary circling her waist, this church surrounded me, and continues to surround me, with her imperfect and blessed people praying, laughing, and crying our way to heaven.

by Andrew