Monday, March 16, 2015

Day 27: Memories From Home

This morning I went back to my home parish to celebrate a funeral.  Truth be told, I had not been back for several years.  Two years ago I walked into the church on a Christmas Day afternoon to pray where I celebrated my First Mass, but it had been a bit longer since I had wandered the halls.  As in most parishes, things change.  I noticed the slightest change to the color of the walls, door knobs, decorations, everything.  When you serve at a church from high school right up until you're ordained a priest, you get to know the place like the back of your hand.  But there was one place that had not changed much: our chapel.  It was like stepping into a time machine.  It was quiet.  The chairs were all in the same place where they were when I celebrated my third Mass there 13 years ago, and the benches along the walls that form a circle where still where they were 20 years ago.  I closed my eyes in the silence of that holy place and could see and hear the 80-90 young people that would occupy that sacred space and sit on those benches along that wall on Thursday nights for youth group.  I could hear their laughter, their arguments, their tears, and their prayers.  Later on when I sat in the car outside waiting for the procession to leave for the cemetery, I looked at the entrance to the chapel and could still see all the young people running around talking to each other, yes talking to each other because there were no cell phones in the mid 1990's to get lost in and all the joyous nights we would spend out there.  I've kept track with many of those kids through the years.  I've witnessed their marriages, baptized their children, and tragically had to bury one of them, but there are so many who have wandered far and forgotten where home is. 

I quickly make the parish where I'm currently serving my home as I have done with Immaculate, but for a priest there is always something about his home parish.  Yes it's still quirky.  Yes, it's as imperfect as we are.  But it's still home.  And as I gazed at the entrance to that chapel, I thought of what I would give to have all those young people standing in that doorway again...