Friday, August 31, 2012

A Ride Home Found, A Staue Lost

Every morning before he opened up his restaurant for the day, John Evangelista would pause before the St. Anthony of Padua statue in front of his home and say a prayer. "It's just something I did every day at 4:30 a.m.," said the 78-year-old "It was a ritual." However, over the past few days, Mr. Evangelista has had some medical issues and had not made the short trip from his home to his restaurant, so he didn't know that somebody had stolen his cherished 2-foot statue from his front yard. Mr. Evangelista, a Catholic, learned about the theft when his daughter stopped by his home to drop off some food. "I was just heartbroken about it," he said. Mr. Evangelista has had other statues stolen before, including a baby Jesus that was part of a Nativity display. But the recent theft deeply affected him because of the statue's sentimental value and his close spiritual relationship to the Franciscan Catholic priest preacher and teacher, known for helping to find lost things for people who pray to him.
The story goes back 55 years ago, when Mr. Evangelista was an Army corporal assigned to Fort Dix in New Jersey. He had planned to come home to Worcester for a weekend, but when he arrived at the bus station in New York City he discovered that he was a dollar short and couldn't buy a ticket. "I just sat there and prayed, `St. Anthony, please help me find a dollar because I really want to go home,'" he recalled. "All my Army friends had the weekend off and I wanted to be in Worcester." Amazingly, a street person happened by and, unsolicited, gave him the money. "He apparently noticed my uniform and he told me that I was doing a good job," said Mr. Evangelista. "He gave me the money and told me to buy a drink."
Instead, Mr. Evangelista bought a ticket and headed north.
He later told the story to a priest friend, who often used the tale when preaching about faith to his congregants. The priest bought him the concrete statue.
"I've never forgotten that guy at the bus station," said Mr. Evangelista. "I pray for him from time to time, or I'll light a candle for him in church." Mr. Evangelista said the encounter taught him never to turn his back on somebody in need. "That's why, when I see I guy who looks like he's out of luck, I'll give him a buck or two for a bowl of soup or whatever," said Mr. Evangelista. He said the statue really isn't worth anything but he'd like it back.
"I'll take it, no questions asked," he said.

We thank Mr. Evangelista for his beautiful story of finding a ride home, thanks to the intersession of St. Anthony, we pray that through that same intersession his statue is found and returned~