Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Until the autumn following my ordination, had someone asked me what my favorite season of the year was, I would have immediately responded, "The Fall." Fall, for me, is filled with a million happy memories. In the Autumn, I went back to school to be reunited with friends I hadn't seen in months. In High School it meant the beginning of anew theater season. It meant the beauty of the changing leaves, and reprieve from my summer job. Most importantly, it meant that the days began to cool. Then, I spent two of the coldest most miserable snow-filled winters that I can remember in Rapid City. That first winter, I distinctly recall making the decision that, should the snow ever melt, I would spent some amount of time outdoors every day that it was warm enough to do so. I think I kept that pledge. I also learned that people have lots of parties in the summer, and that kids are allowed to stay up late in the summer. So, these days if someone were to ask my favorite season, I think that I would have to concede that summer wins hands-down. Sadly, fun summers are not entirely complimentary to the process of keeping a blog. So, the following is a bit of a summary of what has happened in the month since last I wrote.
Amid great sadness and tears, I bid my farewell to the Cathedral at the final 5th and Broadway performance. The theme this year was World War II era music. I sang "It's Been a Long Time" as my solo, and joined the ensemble for the closing number, "I'll Be Seeing You." The next morning, I packed the remainder of my belongings in my car and arrived at Blessed Sacrament in time to celebrate Mass for the Feast of the Sacred Heart.
The ordination for Fr. Nathan Sparks was truly beautiful. As he made his solemn promises to the Bishop, I was reminded of my own promises, and I recommitted myself to keeping them well. Besides my happiness for him, it was a time to recollect, and to adopt in a deeper way my primary identity as a priest united in a special way to Christ the Head. I have to admit I was a little envious of the new priest. For the next year or so, he will experience all of his "firsts" of priesthood. There is nothing quite like it.
Following the ordination, I hosted a party at my new rectory. People from all over the diocese were there, and I had a marvelous time. My new place is well suited for parties. I expect to have many more.
Totus Tuus Boys Camp
I spent a week at the Totus Tuus Boys Camp this summer, and it was really a superb camp. The High School Leadership was truly exceptional, and with a focus on the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I think that every boy, as well as the priests and seminarians, had a profound encounter with the love of the Lord. If the reports I have been hearing from mothers of campers is accurate, it was a camp well-received, the 100 degree days notwithstanding.
This year featured no serious injuries or illness, and no particular acts of heroism. It was just boys being boys, and men being boys with them. All in all, a lovely way to spend a week. At the end of the camp, we bid farewell to Fr. Brian Christensen as Director of Vocations and handed the reigns to Fr. Kevin Achbach. If we can maintain any of the fervor the camp generated, he is going to have his hands full in a few years.
I was sent by the diocese to preach in Columbus, Ohio hoping to raise some money for us. I discovered that Ohio is a pretty dreadful place, at least in terms of climate. With a stiff breeze, I could easily have gone surfing outside my window given the humidity of the place. Other than that, it was a lovely weekend in a quaint little Ohio town. Unfortunately, due to the size of the parish, I doubt I made enough money to even pay for my plane ticket. I would feel slightly guilty about that had I not enjoyed the pastor of the parish so much.
He is a tremendously interesting man. He studied for a time with Benedictines, he has a doctoral degree from Rome, which is interesting only because it allowed him to meet so many people. He drops names in his conversations with people, but not in an arrogant way. It is just that he happens to be acquainted with a lot of rather significant people in Catholic circles. He would say things like, "I went to see Cardinal O"Mally receive such and such an award, and was seated with Fr. Groeschel. I hadn't seen him in years, so we were catching up when Cardinal Rigali, stopped by our table to, etc . . . ) What really captured me about this man, however, was his love for young priests and the hope they bring to the Church. There are times when old priests are antagonistic toward their younger brothers. This man was not that way at all. It was encouraging.
I finally have a new bishop, and from what I have experienced so far, a very good one. As yet, there is no clear indication as to what his program will be, but this much seems certain: he will make us holy. I am amazed at his humility and his candor when he speaks. I think I will be glad to follow and obey him.
World Youth Day
Tomorrow I leave for Spain. About fifty pilgrims from this diocese will join about 1.5 million other Catholics from around the world to share our faith, to celebrate it, and to hear our Holy Father address us. Spain is hot, Madrid is an old city, and Italians can always be counted upon to be the most inconsiderate people in Europe, so it promises to be perfectly dreadful. But, a pilgrimage should entail some degree of suffering. Pray fr us and our safety while we are away. Follow our adventures here: http://rcpilgrims2011.blogspot.com/
So, by the time I return the kids will be back in school, pheasant season will be on the horizon, and it will be nearly autumn. Football and soccer will be in full swing, and life will be back to the frantic pace that comes with the school year's arrival. But, all in all, it has been a good summer.