I'm going to feel very uprooted as I transition out of the parish ministry. Most of all, I'm going to miss the people. Never before have I had the experience of being embedded into a community, of having so many personal connections with people. Here's my mechanic; I buried his father. Here's the manager of the local pizza place; I did his wedding. Here's my friend the local cop; I prayed with her when her little brother was murdered. Here's one the local guys hanging out sketchily on the corner; I remind him of his deceased mother's concern for him.
The other night I walked the parish boundaries after supper, just trying to offer my intention of gratitude to God for the people. I run into some parish kids going into a restaurant with their mother. Then I get introduced to a dog named Simon by two parish ladies taking a walk. As I go by the local park, some of the altar girls recognize me and interrupt their softball practice to say hi.
I guess I've lived a fairly anonymous life up until now; never before have I felt like such a "public person" and a member of a community. It's a very supporting thing. One of the most striking aspects of this experience of parish ministry is that both the headaches and the support have been far more intense than anything I had experienced previously.
There are three other apostolic churches within the square mile of our parish territory: Melkite Catholic, Ukrainian Catholic, and Russian Orthodox. I'm going to miss that too. In the winter, when the leaves are gone, there is a spot you can stand on our street and see at least a bit of all four churches. So there's a certain richness to the Christianity and the Catholicism of the neighborhood. I'm grateful for that.