A month or two later, my husband and I attended a mass at a beautiful, historic church in New Orleans, St. Mary’s Assumption. I had received information through the religious education at school, that a special mass was being held at this church in honor of the anniversary of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos’ birthday. It had been years since I had been in this gorgeous, highly ornate church, so I was very excited about making the hour and a half trip to get there. The reason that we rarely attended this church, a local treasure, was that it is in a rough neighborhood. We decided that day that this occasion was worth the risk to our personal safety, so we got a sitter for the kids, and made the trip.
Presiding over the mass was a young, handsome, enthusiastic Redemptorist priest. During the homily he spoke of his upbringing, and what “Francis Seelos” meant to him and to his vocation as a priest. As he was speaking, he told us that he was from a small – a rice town in Louisiana called – you guessed it – “Crowley.” Eric and I looked at each other simultaneously with eyes widened like a deer caught in headlights. He whispered to me, “Well. You’re definitely supposed to be here.” In the days and weeks that followed, I tried to delve more deeply into this great mystery. I researched “Seelos,” and his connection to New Orleans, my birthplace. I thought that perhaps, God was pointing me in this direction. I learned some very interesting things, but still did not feel a sense of completion or peace about this ongoing search to determine the meaning behind the “Crowley” message.
I googled “Crowley.” I checked several websites that gave meanings for the surname, and it’s origins and variations. I learned that Crowley can also be spelled Crawley, and O’Crowley, depending on the region. Its possible meanings included “Hardy Warrior” and “Wood of the Crows.” Hmmm. What did it all mean? I had no clue. I thought that perhaps God was asking us to persevere – to be hardy warriors. Wasn’t life difficult enough? Was He asking more? Were there going to be even rockier roads ahead?
As the months passed, Crowley kept coming up in strange place. Our school was hosting a Grandparents Day in which grandparents or special friends of a student could come and visit our campus. I stood in my classroom with one eye on the kids and the other on a set of endearing older people. We chatted briefly about their grandchild and how wonderful he was. Then, out of the blue, they mentioned that they had driven in from Crowley to be here that day. Wow! There is was again!
A month or two later, I received a brochure in my mailbox in the teacher’s lounge. The multi-paged pamphlet listed several places in Louisiana that would make great field trips. I nearly threw the brochure in the trash straight away, because, in my current position, I no longer had a homeroom class, thus I was not involved in planning trips off campus for learning purposes. I tore the tab that held the booklet closed. The first page that I opened to read, “The Answer is Crowley” in large letters. The rest of the page asked things like: “Where can you find this? or Where can you find that?” The Answer is Crowley. Of Course!
God really had me going. I was intrigued by this ongoing mystery, Still months passed with no real “break in the case!”
At school, one afternoon, a coworker who was my assigned prayer partner for the year, brought me a gift. Mary presented me with a Catholic daily planner calendar for 2009-2010. It was a beautiful book with a photo of a stained glass on the front cover. The picture was a representation of Our Lord, revealing His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary. I was thrilled with the calendar. Being a busy mother of three, and a coordinator of religious activities for the school, I need a good planner to keep track of just where I need to be – and when!
Each week, as I used the calendar and turned a new page, I found a meditation on the Sacred Heart. Credit for each reflection was noted – “Fr. Mateo Bouvey Crawley.” Crawley was close – even the google website mentioned this as a form of Crowley. I wasn’t overly impressed, as I saw this as a stretch. We’ll come back to this later.
Occasionally on a sunny Saturday morning, we wake up looking for a little adventure. On one such Saturday, I suggested that we take a day trip to the small Louisiana town of Crowley, about two and a half hours away. My family was not overjoyed by the destination I chose, as Crowley is not known for much of anything. I got them to take the ride with me with bribery – by promising them a dinner at a nice restaurant. My husband knew what I was up to – I was going to do some investigating. I was hoping to follow the “clues” that the Lord had given me and to find the answer – whatever that may be – in Crowley.
I remember the anticipation I was experiencing as we passed the vast rice fields approaching the town. When the exit sign came into view, my heart raced with excitement. I just knew that God wanted to show me something here, and I couldn’t wait to find out what that was!
(to be continued tomorrow)