mid-morning, followed by a solemn procession around the block, then an outdoor pot-luck party with music and dances by the multicultural community that comprised the parish. Latinos and Filipinos in their colorful costumes provided contrast to the dark brown habits of Franciscan Friars who administered the parish.
One time our daughter, her husband and baby who lived in another city came to our parish celebration. They appeared distraught at first, saying they had to take the bus because someone stole their car during the night. We persuaded them to stay for the Mass, procession and party and maybe they'd feel better afterwards. They did.
During the procession, my son-in-law volunteered to help carry the platform on which stood the statue of Saint Anthony. The processional statue of the saint shows him with fire from an open book in his hands instead of the Holy Child. It is not as much a favorite of parishioners as the one inside the church with Baby Jesus in his arms. Nevertheless the ladies have decorated the platform lavishly with different colored day lilies. Our daughter and son-in-law looked like they really enjoyed the party, showing off their baby boy to neighbors and friends. After the party, they rode the bus back to go home.
Later that afternoon our daughter called excitedly to tell us they have found their missing car. She said they were still on the bus when my son-in-law happened to look out the window and saw the car crookedly parked in an empty lot. He was quite sure it was their car. They got off the bus and walked to it. The door was unlocked, there were minor scratches on the dashboard and a nicked keyhole, some small objects, pillows and toys missing, but otherwise the car was intact. No one was around to see them take their car back, so they drove it home.
What was amazing to me was, I didn't think my daughter or her husband even thought of praying to Saint Anthony for help in retrieving their missing vehicle. Well, maybe they - or one of them - did. Yet they were quite certain it was Saint Anthony who led them to their missing vehicle. Perhaps just participating in his feast day celebration was enough for the good and gentle saint to lend a hand.
Thank you, Saint Anthony. Your favors are always appreciated. Pray for us to God, dear Saint and Doctor of the Church.
Thank you M.P. for your beautiful story of how St. Anthony assists us even when we don't ask him outright - he still is always willing to help.