On Sunday my brothers and I went to the Indy Car race at the Iowa Speedway. We were able to attend, because of my uncle who is a priest in the Sioux City Diocese in Iowa. He is also the national carnival chaplain which means he goes around to various state fairs and other carnivals around the U.S. and says Mass and provides other priestly services. When I was growing up I would go to the Nebraska State Fair with him each year. The most important thing to me back then was the fact that I would get to ride all the rides for free since the carnival owner would give my uncle free passes to give to my brothers and me.
Side note: Stay away from the Berry-Go-Round. Unless you enjoy puking.
Now, however, I understand a little more fully the importance of providing ministry to all people in all walks of life. Ministering to those who otherwise would not be able to make it to Mass because of always being on the road is completely necessary. It’s easy to sit back and say, “Well, why don’t these people find a Mass to go to on their own?” But who can argue against reaching out with the Word?
The reason my uncle was introduced to the carnival industry many years ago was a result of bigotry against carnival workers. A carnival worker was having a medical emergency at a carnival occuring near his parish at the time, and my uncle and the hospital were both called. The local hospital wouldn’t provide the man proper care, because he was a “carny”. My uncle stayed with him, however, and people were so grateful that they asked him to join them for further shows. One thing lead to another, and he was named the national carnival chaplain.
Anyway, through his carnival work my uncle met up with the race car priest a while back, and now we’ve been able to join him for an Indy Race each year. We get to be big shots by walking around the pits during the race and eating fancy meals with Helio Castroneves. I don’t deserve it, but I won’t turn it down.
Added bonus: After the race we got to hear a concert by Blue Oyster Cult. Actually that part wasn’t much of a bonus.