As I push on out of the Parish Office and onto Washington Blvd, the sun is brightly shining. The grass on the boulevard is freshly cut. The trees are wonderfully green and fragrant. There is not a soul to be seen. I can’t help but smile as I think about the activity about to be unleashed in the neighborhood. Surveying the street I notice a pickup and cars pulling up in front of the now boarded up community center. People emerge and start unloading and setting up tables. A gas grill is fired up and the smell of roasting hotdogs and hamburgers begins to fill the air.
“Good mornings” are exchanged as more volunteers arrive. Laughter bounces off the walls of the tall buildings that surround us. A homeless man wanders over to see what is going on. He reads the sign being hung off the main table and exclaims “I have heard of “Flash Mob’s” but a Flash Picnic? That’s a new one for me.” He burst out laughing as he headed down the table filling a plate, a hot dog, potato salad and all the fixins. Soon word spreads and the street and sidewalk come alive with people. A couple people come down from the chancery building. A construction crew walks over from the new scaffold work going up. Seniors with grandchildren come down out of nearby apartments. Two young men with guitars hanging off their backs grab seconds. “Who is doing this?” one of them asks. I respond, “St. Aloysius Church.” “Where on earth is St. Aloysius?” Somebody next to me points to the building not 100 feet away. “I’ve lived here 10 years and I never new that church was there.” “10 years”, I replied? “Welcome to the neighborhood! Welcome to St. Al’s.”