Dear Friends in Christ, October 21, 2014
It is after 9:30 on a Tuesday evening, I am sitting in my recliner recollecting myself from a very eventful day, and my dog Maggie is perched on my lap catching up on her “daddy time”, periodically giving me that glare which says “where have you been all day!” I am keenly aware how thoroughly spent I am, but satisfied at the same time. After I finish this “diarrhea of the brain” entry I will spend a short time before the Blessed Sacrament in my home chapel giving to the Lord all of my many concerns for tomorrow, and then I will pack it up for the night and no doubt sleep very soundly.
Considering the many things I have been processing the last several days, as well as the many engagements I have had, I just didn’t think I would be able to write anything this week. I also couldn’t seem to organize my scattered thoughts into any coherent articles. But then I thought, well, no, I need to write something to you, because that would then be two out of the last three weeks that I as your pastor didn’t give you a scribal reflection – and that just wouldn’t be right, now would it? So this is what you get – lol!!!
Let’s see….. After beginning my day in Rockford at my folks house after my night away – I prayed for our school and our parish staff on my way back to McHenry; I celebrated Mass with the middle school children and teachers, which is always an uplifting event; I caught up with each of the parish staff from the weekend; I spent what seemed like just a few minutes shuffling papers around my desk and tackling other office tasks; I briefly visited the principal’s office, and NO it wasn’t because I was in trouble!; I then enjoyed an excellent luncheon at St. Patrick with the staff members of St. Mary, St. Patrick, and Holy Apostles, which by the way is something that we three parishes are now doing periodically in an attempt to build networks, camaraderie, and a sense of shared mission among us; I chatted a little bit more with St. Mary’s staff back at the office in an “unofficial” meeting, in which we attempted to solve all the struggles the Church faces in McHenry; I then journeyed to Algonquin for the McHenry priest deanery meeting, a meeting in which we mostly discussed the challenges facing Catholic schools in the McHenry deanery; I enjoyed another scrumptious meal, this time with my brother priests from the McHenry deanery, catching up with them a bit and enjoying a few laughs; after getting home I visited some neighbors and blessed their dog who is not doing well; I stopped in to see Maggie for about five minutes to let her out and reassure her I hadn’t forgotten her; I went to a local funeral home to lead a short wake service, after which I enjoyed a spontaneous “open mic” sharing with the family and guests about the deceased; after getting back home I stopped in to say hi to the boys practicing basketball at the school; I went and harassed the Foresters for a little bit down in Mary Hall and enjoyed their manly fellowship; and now here I am, in the comfort of my own living room, trying to make sense of it all.
Now I realize you don’t really need to know all those gory details about my exciting life, as I don’t need to know all the details of your busy and complex lives. So why did I share all this? Well, considering that this weekend is Priesthood Sunday, I thought it appropriate to let you in a little bit into the everyday life of a priest. Most people don’t know what priests deal with on a day to day basis. When I first was ordained I had no clue. Well, I still don’t have much of a clue – but I know enough now to be able to state emphatically that we priests live very full, rich, and interesting lives. No two days seem to be the same. Tomorrow I know will be very different than today, and it will be jam packed with fruitful events and challenges. At this time tomorrow I will probably feel the same as I do now – exhausted, as concerned for my flock as ever, but content to be among you and to serve you as best I can.
Why Catholic parents would never encourage their sons to consider the priesthood I will never understand. Actually, I suppose I could understand some of the fear and hesitation in accepting such a vocation for a son – but still, it is a GREAT life!! Yes, we meet with our fair share of challenges and sorrows, and seemingly bigger ones all the time; but still, we experience so many joys in accompanying people in their busy and fun and crazy and messy lives, and these life-giving encounters make all the struggles worth it.
As I have previously stated, I am honored and privileged to be here among you. I mean that. I am sure that we will face our share of challenges together. I am also certain that I will make my fair share of mistakes in trying to shepherd you. But, rest assured that I will never stop doing my best to love you through it all.
Sincerely in Christ,