At the parish gala dinner I was sitting next to a man named Robert. Robert and his wife had driven all the way from Kendall Park, New Jersey to come to the 5PM Mass and attend the dinner for the school. They stayed at the Marriott and went to a lot of trouble and expense to make the trip. Not an easy trip for an 80 year old person. It was important for them to be here. Robert told me a wonderful story.
Robert was born on July 12, 1936. His mother Theresa was a live-in domestic in New York City. His mother needed help in raising her son and so Robert was raised by the wonderful and holy Sisters of Charity at the New York Foundling Hospital. Eventually Robert was placed with a foster family on Long Island where he attended St. Martin of Tours grammar school.
Unknown to Robert was that on November 4, 1933—three years before Robert was born—a child by the name of Charles had been born to Theresa. Charles was adopted by the Fuld family and raised in the Bronx. He never saw his mother again. Charles became a Naval Commander who had married Elaine in 1957 and had 3 children. His children grew. After his wife’s death Charles eventually studied for the priesthood and was ordained a priest on July 12, 1986—the birthday of his brother Robert, who he did not even know existed.
Their birth mother Theresa died in 1978, having never revealed to either brother the existence of the other.
By chance in 2013 Robert learned he had a brother. “Why did my mother never tell me I ever had a brother when I asked her?”
In June 2013, Robert picked up the phone and called the Diocese of San Diego. For the first time in his life he spoke to his brother Charles the priest. He said to him: “Father, I believe I am your brother.” Astonished, Robert flew to San Diego to meet his 77 year old brother who he never knew existed. Father Charles got into his 2010 tan Ford Fusion, drove to the airport and picked up his brother Robert at the airport. Robert looked at the car and told Father Charles that he too drove a 2010 tan Ford Fusion. Both cars had exactly the same mileage on the odometers. Both men were both past state deputies of the Knights of Columbus. Both men were brothers united for the first time after 75 years.
Robert ends the story better than I could: “If there’s a grand, spiritual theme to our story, it is this: Every time you think you have it all figured out, lo and behold, God pulls the sting on you. We must have faith and be prepared for the unexpected things that God reveals to us.”