Providence and pizza

Praying the rosary in the Grotto at Notre Dame hours before the deep dish pizza experience

“Hey, your car’s on fire!” shouted the man from the car beside me. It was mid-July and I was driving through downtown Chicago with a van full of boys headed for summer camp. And it did look like my car was on fire – smoke was pouring out of the engine.

So I searched around at the next stoplight, hoping to find a place to pull over. It was about dinnertime, and there in front of us it was: Giordano’s Pizza – Chicago Deep Dish. “Boys, I guess we’d better stop for dinner and let the car cool down.”

Boys being boys, all I heard from the back of the van were mock groans and complaints. “Gosh father, that’s just too bad,” one said, smiling.

It wasn’t bad for them, but as we sat at our table and I saw the bill starting to add up, it definitely looked bad for me. The deep dish pizza was excellent though, and well worth our half hour wait. Shortly after we had sat down, a man arrived by himself and sat at the table next to us. We were chitter chattering so much that I barely noticed him.

Visiting the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame earlier the same day

Our waiter was really interested in the priest at his table, so the questions were endless: “How long have you been a priest? Where are you pastor? What do you do? How long did it take you to become a priest? White Sox or Cubs fan?” – the whole nine yards.

By the time we finished our pizza, the man next to us had left and I was trying to calculate the bill in my head. I had declined the dessert menu in hopes of keeping it manageable.

That was when our waiter reappeared. “Oh, uh, you’re good to go. The man who sat next to you paid your bill and left me a nice tip, so you’re all set. Have a great day, Father!”

You should have seen the look on the boys’ faces. And mine too probably. I had been so worried. About the bill, and about the car. And out of the blue this kind stranger had taken care of worry #1. And when we got out to our car, we discovered the smoke was only coming from a finicky parking brake. Worry #2 taken care of.

So often our worries consume us. We live with them tearing our insides apart. But worries are often just a large portion of pride dragging us down. We want things to work the way we want. And no other. I want my car to work, now. I want to eat deep dish pizza, and it better not cost much. 

The next time a worry comes your way, see it as an opportunity to trust, to abandon a little bit of your dominion over your life to God’s hands. I’m the first one who will admit that’s not easy, but you’d be surprised how well God figures things out, and how unfounded our worries often are.


About Fr Kevin McKenzie LC

Fr Kevin McKenzie LC comes from Saint Louis, Missouri from a family of nine. He spent the last five years studying Philosophy and Theology in Rome. Ordained a priest in December, he now helps as chaplain at a small Catholic school in Cincinnati, and on the weekends directs retreats for boys in southeastern Indiana.
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