September 28, 2013


For the second time in my religious life, I find myself in community with another Charles. The first time was back in Yonkers when the late Fr. Charles Repole was living on the other side of the building in the fraternity for senior friars. He had spent much of his religious life as a missionary in Nicaragua, and his claim to fame, of which he was very proud, was that he had edited a trilingual dictionary of the English, Spanish, and Miskito languages.

I doubt that there was ever much danger of confusion but in order to avoid it anyway, he used to call me 'Charles, junior.' and would say, "You're my 'junior.'" Some of the other brothers, finding this amusing--Fr. Charles, senior, was somewhat given to the 'mascot' role in the family system of the senior friars--shortened this to 'CJ.' Fr. Charles would also call me mi tocayo, Spanish for 'my namesake.'

In this second situation of two Charleses, some elements in the community seem to be suggesting that it be clarified by calling the other Charles 'Charley' and me 'Chuck.' I guess I don't have anything against 'Chuck,' but I would tend to resist it a little in the current circumstances of my life, given the resonance that immediately obtains between Friar Chuck and Friar Tuck.

Anyway, yesterday we had a local chapter here in the General Curia fraternity. One of the events during the chapter was an election held in order to fill a vacancy on the house council. The fraternity is large enough, hovering around thirty friars, to have an elected council to meet with and advise the guardian and his vicar. I was nominated a scrutineer for this election, and my main duty ended up being the verification, out loud, that the number of ballots received matched the number of ballots passed out. This was very amusing for the brethren because it put on display the inability to count which has been a thorn in my side since second grade.

When no election (by majority vote) had occurred on the second ballot, we proceeded, according to our customs, to the third ballot on which only the two brothers who had received the most votes on the second ballot would be eligible. There was, however, a three-way tie for second place on the second ballot, and I was one of those so placed. This meant, according to our customs, that the tie would be broken by seniority in the Order and so we were each called upon to announce the date of our temporary profession. Things got even funnier at this point when one of the brothers needed help remembering. I, on the other hand, knew well and announced my date of August 4, 2002 with confidence because I knew I was the youngest in religion and thus the most disqualified from further eligibility in the process at hand.

The point of all this is to say that as scrutineer I also had to verify the names written on the ballots while the other scrutineer announced them. One of them was found inscribed with 'Ciak.' After a moment of reflection, this was revealed as an attempt to write 'Chuck' in Italian.

It's kind of odd because there's no letter 'k' in italiano standard, as the Italians would call it. Nevertheless, the internet tells me that in Italian a ciak is one of those clapperboard things they use making movies. So in that spirit, here's a still of me from the last movie I was in, ca. 1997.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Living in Italy,that is a problem you will likely encounter frequently as Italians seem to have a limited pool of make first names. For a Franciscan,the "Frank series" would probably be a best example. It goes:Frank,big Frank,little Frank,Frank junior,Frankie and Francis. There is a similar Anthony/Tony series,as there is a Joseph series.This is how my family distinguishes 30 male relatives using only three names.