Which Religion? By: Florence Arena

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Imagine asking that in a Protestant state. So I’11 set the record straight right at the start. I’ll feel better then. I was born Catholic in New England. For eleven years 1 attended parochial schools land of the nuns, uniforms and no boys. I felt cheated with as a friend of my brother’s said 1 was cute and I wanted to see male reaction in a classroom. How did I know Michael’s friend knew what he was talking about if I couldn’t test it out in a classroom of boys in school? Didn’t I tell you mother didn’t raise stupid children? Father had decided that his girls should attend parochial school to protect them from all the wickedness &uot;out there.&uot; This was what I looked for every day – the &uot;wickedness.&uot; Never found it. But my senior year he relented and allowed me to go to public school. My senior year classes were with boys and I was cute! It had to be true – a boy said so. I heard him! I aced the year as I had the classes I needed with nuns. Told no one. Let them think I was smart. Better than cute. I don’t know. Smart was good!

Well, I lived my life as a Catholic and started college at Salem Teacher’s College. I became a teacher and was pretty good at it. The years flew by, as they do, and suddenly I’m retired. This means I’m old! I hate being old. I miss my sporty red car dreadfully. Now I’m finally going to get to the title of this column. Didn’t think I would, did you?

I went to a retirement center because now I’m old (I hate it.) But I met some fantastic people! First there was Marie (Catholic), a true and wonderful friend. Then there’s Lynn, my right hand in so many ways. Next Carmen. Get gifted Carmen (Christian) married to a real doll, Michael, Christian and pastor of the Suffolk Christian Church. My medications –lots of these when you get old. Advice: save your pennies, you’ll need them. To this remarkable equation brought Chinese pharmacist, Yuen (Baptist.) I kid you not! Smart and successful like the others above. We became fast friends.

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So we have a Catholic, Christian and Baptist. Who are we missing? I know, Muslim! I went with a Syrian guy while I was in college. Does that count? I left him as he wanted to change cute me in every way to suit him. No way! And he was a dream.

Now I began to write and you always start with your friends. Lynn types for me and is Catholic like me. We may disagree on some facets of Catholicism. I’m not sure but I make no excuses for my religion. Marie is Catholic so she passes, too. Come Carmen and Michael. I wrote a column about going to their church on Tuesdays -taken there by a dear friend (male) at the retirement center I now call home. Carmen and I lunch together fairly often. I wrote a column two years in a row about the gifted Carmen’s Christmas play in her church. If you missed it, shame on you.

Next the Wilroy Baptist church where Yeun, pharmacist, takes me. I’ve attended summer Bible study class, a recital, a concert, and a July 4th program made up of religious patriotic selections and thousands of balloons at the end. Their Christmas program was a tableau with parishioners as the Bible persons in episodes of Christ’s life. It was so spectacular that it was hard not to feel strange and have a religious reaction.

Now, all these wonderful people show many aspects of their religion and are mighty proud (as they should be.) I admire them all. I’ve taken part in them, but I’m firm in mine. Let’s keep it as is and we’ll enjoy the one we grew up with. All are wonderful and all strive for peace, understanding, living a good life and tolerance for those who do the same.