I am what I call a Recovering Recovering Catholic. I wrote about it once here. In essence, I was raised Catholic. I stopped going to church for many, many years. Then 5 years ago, I returned. And I stayed. The main reason was because of one particular priest. (You can read more about why he’s so wonderful in the other blog. Click the link.) He’s a fabulous man.
In 2012, he was transferred to another church – apparently, there are “term limits” for priests. Well, most priests. There are a few that have manipulated their way into staying at their churches. But that’s a rant for a different day.
Tonight there was a gathering of parishioners from my church who gathered together to spend time with Father Peter. It’s the first time I’ve seen him since he came to the hospital to administer the last rites to my mother. I’ve talked to him a couple since then, but we haven’t seen each other.
It was good to see him, even if it was in a larger group of people who, really, I don’t know. I go to the 8:30 mass and they all go to the 10:30 mass. Fortunately, my mom knew a few of them, so I had a connection. Of course, Father Peter is definitely a connection for all of us. The evening was spent having good conversation over a good meal. (Though, admittedly, the lasagna wasn’t quite to my liking – it had zucchini, artichoke, and bell peppers in it. Three things I really don’t like, but it would have been rude not to eat it. The rest of it was great, though.)
One of Father Peter’s strengths is making sure everyone is involved in the conversation. He’ll ask pointed questions of people, but they’ll be questions that others can related to. Often, others are able to jump into the conversations. Father Peter likes to preface his comment or question with, “Do you remember…”
There was a lot of remembering tonight. Many stories about other priests we’ve all known, bishops we’ve encountered, parishioners we’ve lost over the years. And, of course, there were stories about my mother. Father Peter and my mom were close. So he certainly remembers her very fondly.
After Thanksgiving, Father Peter is going to give me a call and we’re going to set up a time for me to go out to his new parish for a visit. He has a message from my mother. He says it’s something she asked him to relay to me. He called it her Last Will…for Carleen. As if he really needed to tell me, Father said that he will cry when talking about my mother with me. So, I just let him know that it’s okay. We’ll cry together.