Bandita Memories


Detective Tom sat in his recliner, smelling the morning coffee and sipping its robust flavor. He was still learning to use this precious, quiet time to examine his life.

The crusty, old cop could hardly believe it had been two years since the Covid crisis. In fact, he had almost forgotten about the pandemic. When he looked back, what he remembered was those encounters with the bandit nuns. They were the ones God had used to usher him into the Catholic Church.

When the time for conversion and transformation arrives, God actually moves very swiftly. Detective Tom learned this when he met the “big boss.” He laughed now, thinking about calling Sr. Margaret the “big boss.” She really wasn’t big, and she certainly was bossy. But she was the sister superior, so the other media nuns looked to her for leadership and experience.

That was another big change for Detective Tom. He no longer called these ladies “bandit nuns.” He now referred to them as the media nuns because of their special mission. But we’ll leave that for another story. For now, the four of them were the ones who had shown Tom the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) which he was living. He could actually see that Jesus was embodied in the Church that He had started way back then (Matt 16:18-20).

Detective Tom could hardly believe his good fortune when Sr. Margaret finagled a seat for him in the RCIA class at the Cathedral. He had always believed you had to be someone special or know people in high places to “get inside” a cathedral. And now, Detective Tom had actually been trained there. Furthermore, he had been baptized and received his First Holy Communion in that grand, Charleston Cathedral too! It was a lot for a secular, humanist cop to contemplate, but he could do it because he was a new man — a Catholic cop!

Though it took a while, it was surprisingly easy for Detective Tom to become a Catholic. His biggest problem was the sacrament they called reconciliation. When he first heard it was called “confession,” the old cop knew there were going to be some challenges. But for Detective Tom, they weren’t the normal challenges converts experience.

In Detective Tom’s world, criminals didn’t just confess. They had to be interrogated. The truth had to be sweat out of them. There were bright lights in dark rooms with two-way mirrors. And there were good cop — bad cop games to be played too. Confession in his world was high drama, and he knew all the tricks! So it was understandable that he would be surprised the first time he entered the confessional booth.

There were no two-way mirrors in there, and as far as he could tell, there was only one cop on the other side of that screen. And this guy wasn’t even really a cop — he was a priest. He didn’t ask Tom a lot of questions the way Tom thought he might. He didn’t try to trap Tom either. He just listened. As far as Tom could figure, he was supposed to spill his guts without any help from the priest.

Tom could remember quickly scanning the area for a recording device. He knew the value of a recorded confession in a courtroom. There were no recorders there. It was all very private, something that would never have happened downtown at the police station.

Though confession was a strange notion for the old cop, it actually had gone surprisingly well. Tom began to realize that the Catholic Church was very different from his normal world. In his world, the bad guys sometimes got away with doing a crime. With a good lawyer, they could be found not guilty. But that’s not how it was for Catholics.

When Tom exited the confessional booth that first time, he was actually “innocent.” He didn’t get away with his crimes because of insufficient evidence. He was actually made innocent because of divine mercy. That was a “wow” moment for Detective Tom.

As Tom finished his first cup of coffee for the day, his attention turned from the media nuns to Jesus. These ladies, who were now his friends, were the ones who helped him see that Jesus was at the heart of everything. Deep down inside, Tom knew that he probably did not love Jesus as much as he ought to, but he also understood that he loved Jesus more than he had ever loved him before. With each day, the old cop would have a new opportunity to learn more about love.


The Bible tells us that we are actually the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-31). That’s a difficult concept to understand. It’s like each one of us is a small part of who He is.

Detective Tom thought of it this way. He might’ve been the pinky finger on the left hand of Jesus, while Sr. Margaret might have been the right eye of Jesus. Of course, we are speaking figuratively here. But the reality is that each one of us plays a special, important role in the perpetual life of Jesus here on earth.


Well, the rest of the story is still being played out in Detective Tom’s life. What started as a blue-light emergency in the city of Charleston during a pandemic turned into a conversion and transformation story for Detective Tom. The old cop realized that life really is an adventure, but it’s much more than that. It’s also a pilgrimage.

Detective Tom now knows that he’s on the journey of a lifetime that will last forever and take him to the glory of God!


That’s our story and we’re sticking to it! It’s cool to be Catholic. COOL2B.

In Christ.

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