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Feeling at Home in Church!

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Sister Mary Jo Leddy in her book, Memories of War, Promises of Peace, writes about her parents’ World War II experiences. 

Her father, Jack Leddy, was a surgeon in the Allied army, stationed in a French town. He often went to a nearby church for rest, refuge, sanctuary and prayer. For him it was a special and a holy place. Forty years later, he returned to the village along with his wife and daughters, insisting that they all visit the chapel that was so precious to him. 

When they reached the church, Jack Leddy was delighted and wanted to go inside right away. But the family was horrified by the homeliness of the building. The chapel was rather ugly.  The walls were beige stones, stained and covered with fungus. On the roof was something that looked more like a chimney rather than a bell tower. In any case, there was no bell to ring. Not a single flower or blade of grass grew in the grim clay ground outside.

Dr. Leddy’s whole family criticized the church’s appearance. They remarked that it was like a scene from a Gothic horror movie.

Jack Leddy looked at them rather blankly. In 1944, he had never really noticed what the church looked like. “It looked pretty good at the time,” he said. “It was a place for me to go and pray.”

Sr. Mary Jo Leddy, his daughter, eventually came around to her father’s viewpoint. Speaking of the church she writes: “This was where my father was at home in the world, where he knew he was with God.”

It is amazing how much better a church looks when you are there for the right reasons. Some people use putdowns, and criticism to keep them from confronting their own spiritual poverty.

Please reflect on how YOU have felt when YOU return to a special church or chapel. Describe your feeling. How does YOUR return to a church feel since the quarantine?


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