Anyone who checked in this week, and noticed no posts between last Saturday evening, and today, can figure out why: a very busy week!
People wonder what a parish priest does with his time. Well, here are some of the things that took my time this week (I omit my prayers which I do every day, and are private):
Sunday: following the last Mass, I greeted everyone, and had a gentleman I didn't know ask to see me. Once everyone had left, we spoke. As it turned out, he came seeking financial help, which I suspected would be the case. I turned him down, which I don't enjoy doing, but there are reasons why I did so, which I can spell out if anyone wants to know.
Next came a "Court of Honor" for one of our boy scouts who'd earned his Eagle Scout status. After that, I stopped by our "Super Bingo," to thank the workers and the patrons for their involvement. Sometimes I work at the Monday evening bingo; but this time, I spent about an hour visiting and talking with folks. That brought me home between 4 and 5.
Monday was my day off; I didn't do very much, but I did have to help with some funeral planning over the phone, and I joined the RCIA group in the evening, then stopped by Monday bingo after that.
Tuesday is always busy, with phone calls, checks to be signed, messages left over the weekend, staff have things saved up from Monday, etc. I remember signing a lot of checks and some letters we needed to send out, but I can't recall what they were, now. I spend a lot of time on the phone.
I also get a lot of emails.
That evening, I covered a lot activities with "fly by's"--I stopped by a junior high volleyball game, near the end (I didn't know it was going on, I was on the way to a meeting; but I watched part, and greeted people); the PTO was meeting, "oh, please stay, Father!" but I couldn't, I was on my way to the Building & Maintanence Committee, which hadn't met over the summer; this was my first meeting with this very hard-working crew. Oh, but I forgot the agendas which a staff member had photocopied, so I ran back to the office for them. That's when I met the choir, waiting on the church steps for the choir director who would let them inside for practice. I found out one of our longtime members was undergoing cancer treatment. I had to get back to the meeting.
The meeting let out around 8:30 or so, but they had some work to do in the parish office: "how about we do that now, Father?" Well, sure--so over to the office. Everyone headed home around 9; I hadn't eaten dinner yet, so I drove over to Lee's Chicken; only it was closed, so I got a pizza instead. It was nice sitting at home, watching a little TV, having some pizza with a glass of wine. I have a rule that seems to work: the last part of the day belongs to me, if possible, when I can chill and wind down.
Wednesday morning is when I work on my Sunday homily, and if possible, my Friday school-Mass homily. I stay home for this; the office calls me if needed. I wrote my Sunday homily, then wrote a homily for a wedding on Saturday, and gave some thought to my Friday school Mass homily. I needed to work on the funeral homily, but I hadn't found out, from the family, what readings it had chosen. So, God willing, I'd get that later, and could write that in the afternoon or evening, before confessions at 6 and Mass at 7. I'd have no time otherwise, before the funeral, as you will see.
The readings were waiting for me when I got to the office around 11:45. I had to leave right away, because the school sponsors a fundraising luncheon called "Dollars for Scholars," with a raffle, and I'd bought a ticket ($100 for four lunches, plus chances). I was back around 1:15 or so. I answered calls and emails, signed a bunch of things I can't remember now, didn't get to all the calls, and found time to write that homily late in the afternoon. As I was working on it, a brother priest called with a problem. I talked with him about 20 minutes to help him out. Finished the homily, then off to the sacristy to set some things up for the funeral tomorrow, and also for Mass that evening: Feast of the Holy Cross; we would have incense, I decided.
I was on my way to the confessional, but I'd forgotten to turn on the A/C. In the confessional at 6. I found time, while waiting, to pray some of my office. When not in use, the confessional is a great hide-away!
Following Mass, I had a meeting of our Anniversary Celebration committee; that broke up around 8:15. From there, I headed over to the Knights of St. John hall, where our retired priest was fixing spagetti for the guys; we ate (he always stuffs us), then they had the meeting, then they played poker. I would have stayed, but I was tired, so I begged off.
The next morning, Fr Ang (the retired priest) and I heard confessions from our students, till almost noon. Then back to the office, quick check-in before the funeral at 1. I made some last-minute changes to my homily, then over to church. Back to the office from the cemetary around 2:45. The family had a luncheon, and I'd have stopped by, but I needed to visit the hospital, so I took communion there. I finished there around 4:15 PM. Nothing for the rest of the day--Deo Gratias!
Today was slower: Mass with grades 4-8. (We have two parishes supporting one school, and the older children have classes at the other parish, 1/2 mile away. Every other week, the other pastor and I switch. Today was that day.) I reprised at least part of my homily from 3 weeks ago, with the younger children, with the "Keep your eyes on the prize" karate-chop. The kids like it and they remember it. (If you don't know what the prize is, go back several weeks to a prior Friday homily.)
After that, I visited the classrooms at the other campus, then back to the office. Not a whole lot to do, so a good time to make my escape, especially as I have some chores to do, I'm staying overnight in Dayton, so I need to pack a bag, and I need to make a few stops at the store, if possible, before I go to Dayton for a wedding rehearsal tonite at 5, then the rehearsal dinner; I won't stay for the whole thing, just drinks, then have dinner with a brother priest. Tomorrow I get to sleep in, then have the wedding in the afternoon, then back here to welcome a friend visiting and staying over Saturday evening; so I have to get some food in the house.
I neglected to mention house calls and communion calls; because our retired priest loves this ministry, and it's a great help to me. I didn't mention the drop-ins, the time spent with daily Mass, and other things.
But this gives you a flavor.