A random act of kindness

One of our blog readers, whose anonymity will be protected here, shared an experience that might make you smile. Before you read on, you should know she is a vigorous rule-follower.

She and her husband visited a small town where a little stone church was built on the prairie by Irish immigrants under the direction of an Irish stonemason. The church was closed by the diocese several years ago and purchased by a neighbor who was a descendant of those early settlers – and a third cousin of today’s story-teller.

The church was the site of a reunion over the weekend, and our reader had at least one other DNA match present. During a conversation, this distant cousin – a nun – commented sadly about how all the church records are retained and protected by the bigger church. One isn’t even allowed to look at them, much less make photocopies. A priest transcribes the record you want.

Our reader was stunned and almost rendered speechless (which is quite a feat if you know her!). Several years ago while doing research in the vicinity, she went to that church rectory and asked to see the records. She sat in a room for a long time, looking at records. There were LOTS of records. And she took photographs. No one had told her she couldn’t make copies. If they had, she would not have taken photos. As she says, “My husband despairs of me because I follow the rules.”

After the reunion she went home, found the 2011 records, emailed them to her nun-cousin and told her to share them with anyone she pleases.

You might call it a random act of kindness. Or serendipity.

The moral of the story: If you have the opportunity to look at records that aren’t online – and you’re not told copying is prohibited – TAKE PHOTOS. It may be the last time anyone has a chance to see the records. And share the bounty with others!

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