In the early 1940s, the Reverend Dr. Henry Sloane Coffin, Presbyterian president of Union Theological Seminary in New York, addressed a group of clergymen of the Episcopal Church in New Jersey about the then-current proposals for unity between the Protestant Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church USA (PECUSA and PCUSA….)
At the end of this address, during which Dr. Coffin had noted many similarities and commonalities between the two churches, there was a time for questions and answers.
The first question came from the Reverend Joseph (Giuseppe) Anastasi, the Italian-American rector of the Episcopal Church of St. Anthony of Padua, Hackensack:
“Doctor Coffin, iffa you gotta somma da bread an’ somma da wine leftover after whadda you calla Lor’s Suppa, whaddya do wid it?”
The seminary president furrowed his brow, then smiled winsomely and answered:
“Sir, we would probably pour the grape juice back into the bottle and throw the bread onto the lawn for the birds”—adding, in a hopeful appeal to Italian sensibility—”just like St. Francis of Assisi might have done.”
Father Anastasi widened his eyes and pointed a wagging finger at Dr. Coffin:
“Letta me tella you, Santo Francisco he’s never gonna do dat widda holy sacrament!”
The clericus erupted in laughter, and there were no further questions.