As a high school administrator for years, I would instruct my fellow administrators to enter the school building each day with a “new set of eyes.” I would try to do this myself as part of a morning ritual. I looked around the school and asked myself various questions.
What did I observe today? Is there anything that I had become so familiar with that I almost overlooked it or took it for granted? Who was there? What were they doing? What was my overall impression? What did I see?
Today I went through my ritual at the three Sunday morning Masses at St. Joseph’s Church.
What did I observe today?
First, I noticed how friendly, warm and welcoming you, my new parishioners, were! I thank you for the greetings, the smiles and the kind words. I was really moved by one comment in particular: “Father, we are here waiting to love you.” Wow! Thanks for that! The feeling is certainly mutual!
Second, I noticed the beautiful music at each Mass. I love music and I love to sing. For those who are stoic and non-participatory—you’ll just have to get used to me! Oh well.
Third, I noticed the air conditioning was back, thanks be to God! It appeared not strong enough, in my opinion, but then again I was layered with vestments. Was it just me? Some people were, however, fanning themselves during Mass.
At the 8:15 AM Mass, since I was not the celebrant, I stood in the back of church and I watched far too many people leave Mass early—many right after receiving Holy Communion. I know I surprised quite a few since I was standing there. Some avoided looking directly at me. (Mental note: We’ll have to work on that. For right now I am just going to mention it.)
Next, I had the opportunity to welcome and to bless some parishioners who were hosting a family reunion at the 10 AM Mass and to renew the vows of a couple who was celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary at the 11:45 AM Mass. I’m glad to see that this is going to be an active parish!
I also noticed the decent number of young people at Mass. To me this is a partial indication that there is hope and a future. If we don’t reach the young, then our Church is going to be in some trouble in the days ahead!
I noted some other things, but for now I think that I’ve said enough. This writing is looking too much like an all-too-familiar classroom observation and I certainly don’t want to be doing that again!
Let me just add that I am happy to be here and I certainly look forward to the days, months and years ahead. I want to keep building on the wonderful foundation that Fr. Joe Wagenhoffer left me!
Thanks Joe! You, your associates and your predecessors established a beautiful parish family here.
Fr. Ed Namiotka