Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What Becomes of the Broken-hearted

It's official.  Effective July 1, I will become the associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament Church in Rapid City.  Soon thereafter, Fr. Nathan Sparks will assume his duties as associate pastor of the Cathedral Parish.

For months now, I have suspected that this would happen.  To some extent, because of that, I have been too easily convinced to go out and have fun with people rather than do my work in the office.  I have been trying to milk every moment of time I can with the people I have come to love.  For several weeks prior to learning this news myself, I found myself in tears for no apparent reason just because the thought of leaving was so painful.

I had hoped that once I knew for sure, it would get easier.  It didn't, especially because I was not allowed to tell anyone that I would be leaving until they learned it through the official announcements in the parish.  I have to admit that I did not keep this secret well.  There were plenty of people who knew before the announcement was made.  It was too much to carry alone.

For some, I suppose, this may sound silly.  I am just moving across town, after all.  It is much more than that, though.  I am leaving my family, and I am entrusting them to the care of another.  I am leaving my fishing buddies, my hunting buddies, my friends, my brothers, my sons.  While there will remain perpetually a special bond between us, from now on, they are no longer mine.  And as ridiculous as it is, a part of me worries, "Will I be replaced in their hearts?  Am I just one more in the progression of priests who pass through the Cathedral every couple of years?"  For Fr. Nathan's sake I hope I will.  For my own, I hope I will not.

I feel terrible too, because I worry that I approach my new parish with a heart divided.  I wonder how I am going to be able to love them?  They are good people and they deserve a priest dedicated to them?  How do I give my heart to them now?

The realistic part of myself knows that this was going to happen sooner or later, and that when I eventually leave Blessed Sacrament it will happen there too.  That knowledge terrifies me.  How many times can I give my heart knowing that it will ultimately be rent in two?  It is this reality that I have been writing about for several posts now.  I need to let my heart be pierced, and to recognize this experience as a profound experience of love.  But it is, literally, the most painful thing I have ever had to do.

Once I made light of a difficulty a cousin of mine was having in a relationship with a woman.  My Father rebuked me, "Has your heart ever been broken?  When it is maybe you will understand."  

It seems that I am finally beginning to understand.


  1. Wow. It is so beautiful to read of your love for the people of your parish. Thanks for sharing. God bless you in your journey ahead. The folks you are leaving and the ones you will soon be joining are already blessed by you pouring yourself out for them.

  2. I feel for you in this transition, Father -- but my experience (from the lay side of the equation) is that they will always be yours. Our list of priests we love gets longer all the time; they are ours whether they are in our parish, or Michigan, or South Dakota, and they all get the designation, the love, and the respect due to a Father. To me, this is more like giving your daughter away to her husband and giving birth to a new daughter at the same time...very emotional and difficult, but both are blessings for everyone involved!

    We're praying for you, as always!

  3. Know that we share your sorrow but also know that you will have new members of your family now. You loved your first nephew but your love was not lowered when you got new nephews, did it? Or now that you have two new nieces? You have enough love, compassion and strength for all of your old family and all of the new family you will get, that you haven't even met yet. All the world is my friend. I just haven't met some of them face to face yet. I know you have pain ant the separation of leaving friends and loved ones behind, but you still have them, only in a slightly different way now. Embrace change as frustrating as it is, because that is the one thing that never changes, that all things change, except perhaps Christ love for us. I am excited for you at your new residence. And think of those who are anxious for you to arrive. And also know, that what you write here has so much influence and meaning to so many, tho' they don't post on here to let you know.

  4. Well I am glad that you know now when your goin. Maybe the realization of the move time will help you more. Atleast I hope it will.. I guess as for me I'm glad that ur not goin MILES away(Not that I saw ya much at the cathedral). I do feel bad for the ppl in your current parish and jelous of the ones in ur future one. As for the hunting and fishing buddies, maybe,JUST maybe they will invite u to go even though u are ALL the way across town.. I did on the other hand forgot to tell you that when u came down here I had a few people tell me that they LOVED the way you did mass..Even through my screemin urchin..:( SO with that in mind be a little at ease for your new parishiners will either love you or hate you.. Such is the way of life.. Sorry if that sounds harsh. Love you! And God Bless...
    P.S. For heart break I hear ice cream works.. But since ur on your diet. Maybe concider go carts.. :D

  5. God will give you the grace you need at this time. I think your new parish will be blessed to have you for their priest, and that you will be missed greatly when you move.

  6. Father's MotherMay 19, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    Father, Father you worry too much. As you get started in your new parish, you will find that you are not so heart broken as you thought you would be. Not that you won't miss the parish you left behind. You will find that you are busy, that you are meeting the folks at your new home. As was mentioned by another poster, you have plenty of love to go around to all of your parishes. As for the people keeping you in their hearts, just think back to how long ago it was that Father Mike was our priest. We still love him dearly.His impact on our lives will always be with us. People don't stop loving one another just because they aren't near all the time.


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