There is a famous twentieth-century philosopher named Martin Heidegger, who for many years was very fashionable. Among other supposedly profound things, he used to say that we are “thrown” into our world, into our culture, into our families without any rhyme or reason. He was wrong. I know I was not “thrown” into my family arbitrarily—and neither were you. We were placed there lovingly. God has prepared the right place for us in this life just as He prepares a place for us in the next. He calls us forth at precisely the right moment, from precisely the right ancestral and chromosomal mix to make us the unique persons that we are—unique but linked in a very specific way to the past, to our ancestors, to the cultures that helped to form them. My family is part Irish and part Alsatian. Half my ancestors come from an island, and half of them come from a landlocked province deep in the heart of Western Europe that has sometimes been French and sometimes German. Nothing connects those two places except their devout Catholic faith. Yet somehow God’s mysterious plan involved bringing my ancestors from those two unrelated places to the United Sates in search of a better life. He brought them to New York in the mid 1800s and then finally to New Jersey. Now there are Groeschels across this country.