Miss Anna Casson

 

Each week at table a list of benefactors is read out. The community in gratitude wishes to make explicit the names of the people who have contributed substantially to our life and work. Understandably, the names roll off the reader's tongue. In some instances, when the gifts have been recent and notable, most of us will remember. Names like Ruxor, Kemp, Jenn, and Martin are familiar to all of us. Many others are just names in passing to most of us. Each year I hear one that has special meaning to me, and I would like to lift her name off the page and hold her up for just a brief moment for her kindness to the community. Maybe a few others may smile and recall the passing generosity of Miss Anna Casson when her name is called off in the refectory.

It was in September of 1944 when I got a special call to the office of Fr. Abbot Ignatius. That was a rather awesome thing in those days for a young monk. Subsidiarity is not a new phenomenon in the monastery. Suffice it to say our trips to that office were few and far between and usually were occasions of some moment. Fr. Abbot endeavored to put me at ease. Then he told me of a lady who wished to support a candidate for the priesthood, and he was designating me as the person her money would support. I had five more school years to go before ordination. I was asked to write to her on occasion and to remember her daily in my prayers. I had a benefactress and she had a name and a face for the person she was educating.

Anna Casson was a retired school teacher from New York city. She never saw St. Meinrad. She told me she couldn't afford the trip out here. After I was ordained, I was sent to Catholic University. Miss Anna picked up the tab for that, as well as for my graduate work in Library Science later. On one occasion, with Fr. Abbot's permission, I took the trip from Washington to New York to visit her. How memorable it is to me still. This little old lady, whose face I can not conjure up, took me to a simple supper in a small restaurant, proud as could be of "her young priest." I remember she put a few sugar cubes in her purse for the horse of the milkman who came around her neighborhood every day. She wanted to treat me to something special that was not too expensive. We took a subway ride to the Manhattan Ferry, and for something like ten cents each we took the ferry out and back.

I never saw her again, but I will be eternally grateful to that little old lady who from her life savings set aside some money to pay for my education. I have remembered her faithfully in prayer. Be sure that my face lights up each year in late July when the reader asks our prayer for Miss Anna Casson.

Copyright 2003 Saint Meinrad Archabbey