WE’RE GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER. It’s nine months now since I’ve been at St. Monica and we’ve had major parish things: Confirmation, Christmas, Holy Week and Easter, and now First Communion. Preaching here is a very special opportunity. I’ve had many weekends of Masses, though the crowds are smaller; and though faces are partly restricted by the masks, I’m grow- ing each week in how many people I know by name. I’ve certainly learned much first-hand of the special character of St. Monica.

This is a relationship, a two-way street. I feel that over a few days last week, you got to know more about me. We had a Vacation Bible School meeting, and I introduced the team to a little friend of mine, a lion who will talk to the kids at the end of the week as part of our program. He’s been with me a number of years, but not nearly as long as the friend I got in grade school. His name is Jerry—Jerry Mahoney, anybody? He’s restricted from meeting the kids yet, but will likely be very popular here one day soon. These are figures (we don’t say the p- word) that help me a lot to talk to and entertain especially very young kids, but older ones and adults too like them also.

Our First Communion celebration last Saturday was, as I said, a good experience of the parish for me; but it also showed the parish a lot about me. I’m very touched on this special day by how the children look, so grown up. And as I wandered up and down the aisle to lead them to speak of their faith, I see their eyes so wide and excited by their faith and maybe to be one of the ones who get to be part of the homily. My life with my own little sister and brother is touched on by this deep quality time with the second graders. Afterwards, I was left with a very strong feeling again, a feeling of love and joy and growth, that’s lingered all week. I loved seeing several of them at Masses the next day, Sunday, in their First Communion clothes.

And then on Sunday I played my soprano saxophone to the final hymn at 9:30 Mass. My Dad played the alto sax at St. Mary’s High School in the 30’s, and I took lessons on his horn starting in 7th grade. In college I went to the tenor sax for rock and popular music. Each of them has a special use and time. For the last few years I’ve played church picnics and private parties with fine people from south, Our Lady of Sorrows and others, and “sit in” with other groups and musicians. I play often in my room at night and keep learning new things.  The soprano is a very special sound, between a sax and an oboe, and though I’ve never played it in public before, I thought it would lend itself to a worship setting. I’m grateful to the congregation at that Mass for a warm reception. (It’s on our website at the end of 4/18/21 9:30 Mass.) I’m so grateful to Heather Martin Cooper, Director of Liturgical Music, for helping bring me in on this.

So these are three areas that have come out recently and it feels good to share them with you. They are part of my priesthood—relating to children in fun, sharing faith with them, and my own music enhancing my understanding of liturgical music, and connecting me to people and groups and to many cultures. So while there may be another area or two to come, as I said, you’re really getting to know me now.

So with that, I might as well leave for a bit. I typically take a few days off after Easter and 1st Communion, so I’ll leave this Wednesday the 28th for just a week till May 5th. Monsignor Blood will be back from his break so we’ll be covered. I’ll be back for Mother’s Day Masses.

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