The Blessings of a Barbershop
If you walk into RB’s Barbershop in Marysville, Pennsylvania, you’ll probably meet Jack, the shop dog. You’ll also meet Robert “RB” Walker, Jr., the owner/sole barber at RB’s and a parishioner at Mater Dei, the FSSP’s apostolate in Harrisburg. In fact, if you mention Mater Dei during your cut, RB has pledged to give the cost of your haircut right back to the parish.
RB’s journey to Mater Dei, and indeed, to the Catholic Faith, is a compelling story. Raised in a family that was not committed to a particular religion, he practiced Buddhism and eastern schools of thought from the age of 13, and explored various religions, even Freemasonry, for years. It was then, he says, that “Our Lady came and found me.” He began to say the Holy Rosary, to attend Mass with his Catholic wife and to spend time in Adoration. He describes a devotion to Our Lady that seemed to come out of nowhere. “I have no doubt that she brought me to Our Lord,” he says. So, he began to attend RCIA and was received into the Church in 2017.
Regarding the Latin Mass, RB says: “I was really attracted to Mater Dei, because I wanted to live a fully Catholic life. It occurred to me that I would find tradition with the Latin Mass, and the parishioners there.” RB started off by attending Monday morning Mass at Mater Dei, and not long afterwards he and his wife began attending there on Sundays.
The barbershop itself, which opened in September 2017, follows a route that almost seems to mirror RB’s journey to the Faith. RB was a dialysis technician who was unhappy in his job and with his life in general. A friend suggested jokingly that he go to barber college, and RB decided it wasn’t the worst idea in the world. He went to barber college, loved it, and now, he says, he doesn’t want to be anywhere else but the barbershop. When he began to cut hair he adopted the appellation “RB,” the nickname of his grandfather, Ronald Bell, and so the name of the shop honors his grandfather as well.
RB says that the best part of running a barbershop in Marysville, where he has lived almost all his life, is getting to know the people. “It is absolutely the coolest part of this gig,” he says. And as regards the donations to Mater Dei, the offer runs for the life of the shop. “It’s such a tiny little bit that I can do for the parish,” he continues.
A little bit, perhaps, but the smallest things done for God are monuments in His eyes. If you find yourself within distance of the Pennsylvania capital, do pay a visit to Mater Dei at St. Lawrence Chapel for Mass or some time in prayer with Our Lord. Then, if you travel just a little ways northward to a small town perched on the western bank of the Susquehanna River, you’ll find a friendly barbershop that stands as a towering testament to the power of Providence.
February 5, 2018