Three of us sisters took a ride on a canal boat in Providence Park, Grand Rapids, Ohio. Like the old song, the mule’s name was Sal, and Sally had a helper in Molly. The period costumes, the authentic 14-foot wide boat in a 15-foot wide canal, and the 1870’s jargon made an enjoyable ride at the amazing speed of 4 miles per hour. It took a lot of ingenuity to create locks to provide the level of water needed to keep the boat afloat. The hard work of digging the canal brought prosperity to Ohio as it provided materials and animals to “distant” cities in just a few days. Can you imagine a canal boat carrying two dozen hogs to the next town?
As a musician at St. Patrick Providence, Grand Rapids, I know our parish is the oldest parish in Ohio, and the church was built by Irish immigrants and staffed by an Irish priest—hence the name St. Patrick Church. Perhaps my loved ministry at St. Patrick Church may never have happened to me had it not been for the canal.