24 December 2013

Susan settled

Susan's mother, Helen Virginia Stretcher as she was born, was a convert to what is often referred to as Anglo-Catholicism.  Her own family had been Methodists.  Susan told me of her mother's conversion only within the last year.  I had vague notions of Virginia's family as coming from a long line of Episcopalians (American Anglicans) but this was not so.

In 1932, when Ginny was 18 years old, she was admitted as a student in the first junior college class in what was then called St Helen's Hall (now the Oregon Episcopal School).  She spent two years there.  At her entrance, she was a Methodist.  When she graduated (2nd row, left):

she was an Anglican - and evidently (Susan remembers) of a rather 'high' sort.

Virginia died in February, 1992.  There was no hint on our horizon of the Catholic Church.

Susan's father, Edwin Parker Peery, already had cancer by then.  In January, 1995, Sue received a letter - or possibly a 'phone call? - from a son of her father's second wife Arlene: would Susan like to come to the US to see her father?  Arlene's son had to travel a great deal in his work; he would gladly let Sue use his 'frequent flier' points to come to Seattle.

Sue was, in fact, still unsettled in mind about our decision to become Catholics.  In reality, it ought to have been far easier for her than for me.  She had been brought up Anglican.  Her family attended St Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle - and services were not so different from Catholic Mass: Communion was part of Sunday service; the priest was called 'Father;' vestments were worn.  Yet she had been heavily affected by our years as Reformed Protestants.  She found herself wondering, perhaps, if what was happening was just another of John Jensen's changes of mind.

I thought it wonderful that she should go to Seattle.  Not only would she see her father; she would also be able to spend time with Mark Shea - the man to whom I almost owe my soul.  It had been Mark's e-mails that had been of such importance in my own conversion.  Mark would, I was sure, help her.

In February, 1995, Sue flew to San Francisco, thence to Seattle.  She spent, I think not quite three weeks on her trip.  She saw many relations, there and in Portland.  And she attended Mass with Mark, at Blessed Sacrament parish in the University district, where she had lived with her family from the end of primary school until she left home.  Sue returned home, 'a different person,' as people say - or perhaps integrated in mind and heart.

And I have wondered, since I learnt of Virginia's own Anglo-Catholicism, whether her prayers from Heaven were not of very great importance in our own conversion.

By now, all of our family had decided to become Catholics - except Johnny.

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