I realize everyone is busy this time of year; I wish I knew what I could do to help alleviate that, not just for me, but for you, too. But we all get caught up in the cyclone that is December.
If you wonder what keeps priests busy -- at least, this one, I will give you some details.
As we head toward Christmas, all the usual craziness affects the parish: the school has the "Christmas music" program, one for upper grades, and one for lower. (I suggested we try to give it more of an Advent feel; next Wednesday, I'll see what they came up with.) We're also having a concert with Tatiana -- if you're in the neighborhood, stop by St. Boniface next Friday, 7 pm. No charge, only a free-will offering.
Then, there is the matter of Christmas gifts for all the volunteers; and decorating the church, and the office. We were going to do the office on Thursday, but the staff was too busy, so next week.
Then, there's the Christmas flowers -- we put a handout in the bulletin, inviting people to list remembrances, and of course, make a donation toward the flowers. For the bulletin before Christmas, all those remembrances will be listed.
And we have a "Giving Tree" for those homebound, or in need -- and all that involves lots of activity.
Then, there are the envelopes, which have to be labelled, and then sorted alphabetically, and then put out, in church, for folks to pick up. That also requires the pastor to beg, week after week, that people please pick them up!
Now, all this only indirectly affects me. But if it affects my staff, it affects me.
Here are the parts affecting me...
Arranging and scheduling a Christmas party for the staff. I convinced them to do it actually during Christmas season -- i.e., after Christmas Day -- and everyone liked it when we had a nice evening, last year, on the eve of Epiphany. But I still had to send a memo around, soliciting info for dates. We settled on the eve of the Baptism of the Lord, January 12. I'll take them out, with spouses, to a nice restaurant.
Preparing for end-of-year performance reviews. Every employee has a right to evaluation, and that is my job. I will be meeting with everyone, one-on-one, to give them some feedback on the year. Unfortunately, the financial squeeze both parishes face makes it difficult to offer raises, but I will do what I can.
Scheduling penance services, for the parish and the schoolchildren. Next week we'll have four services, one for 3rd graders, one for 7th and 8th graders, one for 4th to 6th graders, and one for everybody, for three parishes, the two I pastor, plus the neighboring parish. This afternoon I prepared the plan for the children's services. For the evening service next week, I'll dust off what we did last year, and use that. (The reason the 3rd graders have one to themselves -- they are at one campus, with k, 1, and 2; after that, we run over to the other campus, and get two grades; the others will be another day.)
Participating in penance services for other parishes. I can't expect other priests to come here, if I won't go there. Next week, I'll be at the Catholic high school and two nearby parishes for their services; I was at another parish earlier this week.
Beyond that, there is a general rise in activity this time of year. I get more calls from folks, for all manner of things; I expect I'll hear from folks planning to marry, as some folks come home for Christmas; I'll get inquiries about baptisms and so forth. And, of course, I do get invitations to parties and dinners.
The week after next, of course, we'll have church-decoration issues to deal with. With the "fourth week of advent" lasting only a few hours, I have little choice but to put the creches up before the fourth Sunday of Advent.
Today, I had two Masses; 9:15 with the schoolchildren. It was packed, as all the kids came together, at St. Mary, plus parishioners. That was nice, they sang well and it was a lovely Mass. Then I had 12:10 pm Mass at St. Boniface; not a bad turnout, I'd say. Inbetween, I stopped at the new Tim Horton's for some coffee and doughnuts -- and a parishioner paid for it! How nice! After Mass, I worked on the penance services, made some calls; realized the phone message didn't have the holy day schedule on it (sorry!) so I fixed that, plus added the Christmas schedule; scheduled a funeral next week; handled some emails, and came home early at 4 pm to rest a little before meeting some parishioners for dinner. I hope I can write my Sunday homily tomorrow...