Family and friends of Father H. Timothy Vakoc continued to pray in early June for the U.S. Army chaplain from Minnesota who was seriously injured when a bomb exploded near his Humvee in Iraq May 29.
Twenty years ago I stood in the Government Department of the University of Texas to give a talk. I was fresh out of graduate school, and it was my here's-why-you-should-hire-me lecture. I wanted to teach about ethics and politics, so as academic job seekers do everywhere, I was showing the faculty my stuff.
The pope proceeded down the line, nodding and patting, and when he got to me I jerked into a kind of curtsy-bow and touched his right hand with my hands. Then I bent and covered his thick old knuckles with Chanel No. 23 Red Raspberry lipstick. I couldn't help it. I think I said, "Papa."
It was a long train ride from Yugoslavia to Italy. No one knew what to expect. The children were good actors and hid their fear in silence. They were Jewish child refugees from Germany, Austria, and Poland whose parents had been deported to Nazi concentration camps. Josef Ithai, the young teacher who looked after them, shared their fear.
My parents were observant Jews in Europe who fled to the U.S. to escape the Holocaust. I was raised as a "conservative" Jew, and was rather pious by nature and very enthusiastic about the religious instruction I received and the religious activities I participated in.