Doña Alba is a longtime parishioner of Visitation Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) Church in Philadelphia. A native of Puerto Rico, she makes the best arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) you’ve ever tasted. For six years, I enjoyed plate after plate of delicious Puerto Rican food from Doña Alba’s kitchen—just one of the benefits of being the pastor at Visitation.
From the time I met her, Doña Alba had a unique way of greeting me. It didn’t matter where our paths crossed, whether the post office, the bank, the grocery store, the bus, or in church, it was always the same. Seeing me, she’d drop everything, fling her arms open wide and rush toward me shouting, “¡Padre Bruce! ¡Mi corazón, mi alma, mi vida, mi amor, mi todo! (Father Bruce! My heart, my soul, my life, my love, my all!)” You’d think I’d be embarrassed. I never was. Not once. Actually, I loved it. In that moment I knew how much I was loved. How special to be the center of attention, the center of someone’s world. Doña Alba was sincere, and I was grateful.