2022 in Review
Overall, did you have a good year?
I did, with a few qualifications. Let’s review the videotape. (Does anyone still use videotape??)
For the first time in my career, I have a full-time associate pastor. And he has quite a backstory to tell. They never taught us in the seminary that the first discussion a pastor would have with his “young” associate would be this: What are the guidelines when your grandchildren visit the rec- tory? Seriously, it has been great having Fr. Gene around. It has been good sharing meals with him (he BBQ’s well!), sharing a scotch at the end of the day, getting a new perspective on the priest- hood and parish life. And best of all: he puts up with me.
A Return to (semi) Normalcy.
After the last two years dealing with the pandemic, it has been good getting back a little of what we knew before. It has been great having social events again like Breakfast with Santa and the Trivia Night. The return of Children’s Liturgy has been a great blessing, not only for our children and their parents, but for everyone who sees the throng of little ones process out and back into 9 am Mass. Thanks goes out to Laura Welch and her team of intrepid volunteers who brought it back and make it happen week after week. Our school has done an amazing job both educating our children and keeping them safe. A quick word on that. Our school has been back in per- son since August of 2020. There is no dispute anymore that mandatory remote learning was a detriment to many students and may have cost them a year or more of their educational history. Many thanks to our administration, staff and faculty who kept our students, both day school and PSR, learning in the midst of the pandemic.
Hopefully we can begin to bring back more events and opportunities in the New Year.
My Wandering Heart
Anyone who knows me, knows I like to travel. I do not abuse my vacation time, but I make the most of it. This year I got to jet off (first time in a plane since 2018) to Las Vegas (“you got to go where the sinners are”), took a golf trip to North Carolina (Pinehurst in Disneyland for golfers) and spend some time with the brothers down at the Lake for our Convocation. All three trips were restorative. This year, I plan to go to the Smoky Mountains with my family in August (I highly recommend family trips) and I am leading a tour to the Holy Land in October (we may have some room if anyone is interested – more information will be coming). My annual golf trip is in limbo right now, so we will see. My travels regenerate my soul and they open my mind and heart to un- certainty and newness. This is an important trait to develop in 2023 because of …
All Things New
The new Strategic Plan of the Archdiocese certainly was the big story in the Catholic Church in St. Louis. Surveys, meetings, listening sessions, discussions…it was exhausting. I cannot tell you how many times I have said this line: “This is what I think will happen here at Holy and the sur- rounding area, BUT I COULD BE COMPLETELY WRONG.” As we head into the new year when all the debate, all the deliberation, all the consideration will come to closure and definite hard deci- sions will be made, I am convinced that we have done all that we could to make our parish ready for any inevitability. Two very positive things have come out of all of this. First, it was gratifying to be able to look honestly at our parish and see our strengths and our shortcomings. There are many, many positives here at Holy from which we can face the future. We also know clearly what we need to work on, expand or avoid in 2023. This knowledge and insight will help us stride into a cloudy and uncertain future. Second, we have begun the discussion about what makes a vital parish, what we are called to as disciples of Jesus, and the deep blessings we have been given by God. I am convinced that no matter what happens on Pentecost 2023 (the date of the announcement), we will be stronger, holier and more compassionate than ever before to share the good news of Jesus Christ.