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Encountering Mr. I.

What happened to Father Rolf as he headed home from the annual Priests' Retreat.

The Retreat Center

I was waiting for a prearranged ride at the retreat center in Florida after the annual Communion and Liberation Priests’ Retreat had concluded. Our speaker was Father José Medina, who delivered astoundingly moving conferences about the importance of fatherhood and of our Lord Jesus who comes to rightly order our desire.


The conferences had concluded, but the retreat was far from “over.”


My desire was to not miss my flight. My ride was scheduled to arrive at 3:45 am for a red eye flight.


As I was finishing packing up, I received a notification that my ride had canceled, twelve minutes before the scheduled pick up time. The driver canceled my trip because he claimed I didn’t wear a mask, when, in fact, I hadn’t even met him at the pickup point yet. Grrrr.


But if he hadn’t canceled, I wouldn’t have encountered the next driver, “Mr. I.”


The first thing Mr. I. said was how much he admired the large marble crucifix of the Passionist Retreat Center.


I told him about how unjust it was for the previous driver to cancel my trip. Mr. I. replied that it probably was a young man. Then he told the story of another passenger who had asked Mr. I. what he should do with his life. When Mr. I. said that he should pray, the young man cursed at him for eight minutes of the nine-minute trip.


Mr. I spoke of how important prayer was to him. He spoke about how God answered his prayer when he cried out in need, when there were multiple violations of code when he was head of his association, and how soon even the compliance officers were helping him fix the problems!


Mr. I was from Lebanon, and after the devastating civil war of the early 80’s, emigrated to America for a new life.


Our journey together was ending. As rock music from a station called ‘69 was playing loudly on the radio, it was time to turn off at exit 69 to get to the airport. (1969 is when the movement Father Giussani started became “Communion and Liberation.”) Were these signs of my continued journey with the Father?


I was in such a rush, only to arrive at the airport to wait for the security checkpoint to open!


Sometimes enduring a slight inconvenience is worth it. . . to have a privileged encounter with Mr. I., the man, the father who knows who he is.


Fr. Rolf, Chanhassen, Minnesota






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