Hilbert Stanley, an impressive man by both appearance and words, wore traditional African garb when he stepped to the altar last Sunday at Camden Yards; he was one of only two African-Americans to receive communion from Pope John Paul II. "It was an honor," said Stanley, executive director of the National Black Catholic Congress. "But it demonstrated to me that we have a tremendous challenge to reach out to the African-American Catholic community. It's a challenge I face every day. That's my ministry."
He's particularly concerned with reaching other black men and getting them in touch with their faith, a daunting task.
I wondered if Stanley planned to attend the Million Man March today in Washington. He does. He was to take the train from
Baltimore with his son and grandson. And never mind that this march was organized by Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader whose spokesman last year called the pope, the leader of Hilbert Stanley's church, a "no good cracker." Stanley endorses the effort, not the man associated with it.
"This march has moved beyond the person [Farrakhan] to the theme. We in the African-American community, we men in particular, have got to come together. And that's an important message, a positive thing, I don't care who is saying it. . . . I heard some men say on television they didn't need to atone for anything. Well, I question that. Either by omission or commission, we all have something to atone for. This is a time for black men to come together and stand up for all we've failed to do in our past lives, to claim it and to move on."
Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop John H. Ricard, who also plans to attend the march, has an interesting take on atonement. "If you look at the root of the word, it means to be 'at one with,'" he said. "Most of the people attending this march have it together; they're hard-working, productive citizens. This is a way for us to be at one with those brothers who are struggling, who are caught in the cycle of violence, drugs. It's a way for us to say, 'Look, how can we help you?'"
The Peddy press
Dennis Peddy, owner of the Ridge Store, the semi-country-style gas-and-shop stop on Falls Road in Baltimore County, started publishing a one-page newsletter about three years ago, and now his mailing list tops 500.
The Ridge monthly consists mainly of Peddy's folksy observations on life and current events. At first, he just left the newsletter on the counter for anyone to take. Then, he started mailing it to customers. "I felt our house account customers needed something to laugh at when they got their bills," Peddy says. Even former customers, who live as far away as California, still get it. "Some of them say they open and read it right there by the mail box." Here's a sample of Peddiness:
"After reviewing our sales figures for July and August, it is apparent that we will not be able to let all of you go on vacation next year. We'll set up the schedule and let you know."
"No wonder they have so much trouble getting people to evacuate in the face of a hurricance. What self-respecting person is going to flee in terror from something named Andrew or Gabrielle or Felix (that's a cat's name, isn't it?)"
"This probably isn't funny to anyone but me. I'm always amused when I see a truck go by with 'Tree Expert' written on the side and the inevitable load of firewood in the back."
"You show me a politician who is working on a worthwhile project and I will show you a politician who is refining his farewell speech."
Reporting Beltway bad boys
State Police Superintendent David B. Mitchell takes issue with my suggestion that his troopers have have "abandoned the Beltway," and he cited the following figures: In 1994, State Police issued nearly 400,000 traffic citations. A bit more than half -- 203,301 -- were for speeding. Of those, about 80 percent were written on roadways with a 55 mph speed limit. "Despite our efforts," Mitchell says, "I am in complete agreement with you that more needs to be done to stop the aggressive driver."
Got a problem with tail-gaters, cutoff artists or other Beltway bad boys? Got a cellular phone? Dial #77. That's a direct link to the nearest State Police barracks. It's a free call on Bell Atlantic or Cellular One.
Questions asked by foreign reporters during papal visit (and answered by members of the Enoch Pratt's reference and information staff):
"What are the trees planted along Pratt Street called?" (Bradford pears.)
"How many Catholic schools are there in Baltimore today and how many were there 10 years ago?" (There were 122 in 1984, 98 last year.)
"What does 'fumble' mean and what did the New York Times mean when it said 'there was a ceremonial fumble' during the pope's visit?" (That was a reference to the pope's unhappiness at some glitch -- undescribed by the Times reporter -- at mass in Newark, N.J. a few days before his Baltimore visit.)