Grace for Clunkers is the brainchild of Fr. Jason Ippolati, the new associate pastor of St. Boniface. "In my first few months as a priest, it has become increasingly clear to me that every human being is, in his or her soul, a clunker. Shiny and new and some point, created by God for sure, but chugging along without air in the tires and in need of a new transmission. The thing is, they have to admit to their clunkiness, and allow God's grace to get them on the road again," said Fr. Ippolati.
After a few initial chuckles in the pews, the announcement of the three week program--which involved titles such as "What's the blue book value of your soul?," "The Clunkiness of the Culture of Death," "The Stimulus of Seeing God Not Enough For You?"--drew an overwhelming response.
"I took better care of my car than I do my spiritual life," choked out an attendee who wished to remain anonymous. "That's what I learned. I went to reconciliation for the first time in a decade, and...I can't explain it. It's like my soul has that new car smell. You just can't simulate it--even with those cheap $2 air fresheners."
"It's not about a trade-in--it's about transformation!" shouted Fr. Ippolati at a session posted on YouTube. "Yea, though I chug through the valley of death, I fear no break-down, for you are with me. Your dipstick and your engine coolant, they comfort me."
Although the program, which ended with a city-wide reconciliation service and individual confession, was to end last weekend, Fr. Ippolati announced to the congregation's great delight that grace does not have an expiration date, and the program was "infinitely extended" to every Saturday afternoon at 3pm.
Parishioners interviewed agreed that the Grace for Clunkers program was a proven success in rethinking the Christian life. "It was really interesting stuff. I never knew the fruit of tree of knowledge of good and evil was a lemon," mused parishioner Sheila Murray.