“Lloyd, I’d like to try a little experiment; will you do this with me?
Let’s just take five minutes to think about all the people who have loved us into being . . . “
Since “The Lockdown,” I’m sure many of us have been watching an inordinate amount of television programming. The quote (above) is from the movie Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Matthew Rhys, as journalist Lloyd Vogel, and Tom Hanks, as Mr. Rogers. For me, this is the climax of the movie, when we finally realize just how troubled Lloyd has become. Lloyd and Mr. Rogers are in a diner having lunch and Mr. Rogers proposes this exercise. What follows next is several seconds of silence in which the observer is forced to do the exercise along with the actors. It’s a very pivotal moment.
Over thirty-five years ago, I walked into a meeting of people who would be starting a new Religious Education Program at St. Paul Church in Chicago Heights. I had volunteered to be of service doing business work. When I entered the meeting, the woman who would become my “Earth Mother” handed me a catechist manual. I tried to give it back and said, “I’m not going to be teaching.” She just said, “Well, hold it during the prayer service because everyone is holding one.” I have been holding that book ever since then.
I have ministered to the wonderful people of this community at three different parishes: St. Paul, St. Agnes, and St. Kieran. I have served as Director of Religious Education Programs at all of these churches. I have served in two schools—St. Agnes and St. Kieran. Twenty-five of those years were spent specifically in catechesis, with these last ten years as Business Manager. I think it’s safe to say that I have met, along the way, people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, family situations, traditions, and culture. I have followed the Spirit wherever it has led, sometimes kicking and screaming, but have never been disappointed with the blessings that journey has given to me.
I have been blessed with a wonderful opportunity to minister in a way in which I stayed true to myself. I have been blessed with the great priests that have directed and taught me to listen to my inner soul. I have been blessed to have worked with two Principals who did nothing but support me, even when the ideas I had were, let’s say, “hare-brained.” I have been blessed to be a resource to wonderful teachers and catechists, who give of themselves in ways that most people would not understand. I have been blessed with the parishioners of all three churches, who, for the most part have become the dearest friends I have ever had. And . . . I have been blessed with the (dare I say) thousands of young people that, I dearly hope, took away my joy in Christ if nothing else has been remembered.
I has truly been a joy to have lived my life in this ministry. As I retire, memories keep flooding into my consciousness and each one has a face, a smile, a touch, a hug, a challenge, and always, always the grace of God. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for “loving me into being.” I will always be grateful for your love and support. God Bless!