As I write this post on early Saturday morning, I am aware that our country has a new president -- at least for a couple of hours! As President Bush undergoes a routine colonoscopy, his faithful sidekick is now in charge. This happened five years ago when President Bush underwent a similar procedure during his first term.
Well something similar is happening in DePere -- just like, but totally different! These next two days will be pretty intense as far as ministerial involvement goes. Immediately after this post, I will be headed to St. Vincent Hospital for "pastoral rounds," as I call them. Upon my return to the priory, I will finish last minute preparations for the celebration of two weddings today which celebrate the sacramental milestones of four very good people. Tonight I will shift gears and make last minute additions and deletions to Sunday's homily -- the hotter the weather, the more the deletions!
Tomorrow after my workout on the treadmill, I will preside and preach at the 10:00 AM Mass. I am excited to welcome our young kids who took part in Vacation Bible School this past week. These very talented boys and girls will sing their theme song after Holy Communion. After Mass, I have four baptisms staggered throughout the late morning, early afternoon hours. Then I have two pastoral appointments to attend to in early/late Sunday afternoon. After that I have a quick photo- shoot for the Packer's-St. Norbert 50 year relationship: can you say, "makeup?" And then... ... ... "I'm on vacation," as the jingle goes!
Not much out of the ordinary, I will be headed north to visit with my family. I will get caught up on some reading, will do a little brainstorming regarding ministerial opportunities with the college, parish, prison and Packers, and I will also catch up on the fifth season of Smallville and the sixth season of OZ via my 8 inch belly-telly! As the week comes to a close, I will be headed to Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church of Naperville where I will preside over the rehearsal and wedding ceremony for two of our recent graduates, Jo Blecha and Lucas Stangler. I am looking forward to that celebration very much. As many of you know, I have taken part in two recent liturgies at the beautiful Naperville church, specifically for the Masses of Christian Burial for Alya Sami and Andy Domagola. While the tenor of this wedding will be obviously different than the other liturgies I have celebrated there, I will -- nonetheless -- continue to be very grateful for the exceptional caliber of students that Ss. Peter & Paul have given to us at St. Norbert: past, present and future. Returning to Naperville will be totally delightful.
I will return to DePere late Saturday night as I prepare for the Packer Mass at 7:00 AM Sunday morning and then I will concelebrate the 10:00 AM Mass with Fr. Sal at Old Saint Joe's. That's where he can return the keys to me and gratefully exclaim as he often does, "I am not the Pastor!" But for this next week, he will be; as such, I have a bit of a checklist for my Sicilian-sidekick, hoping he'll accomplish a few things in my absence:
1. Sal, feel free to finish the "Assessment Grid" for the Mission and Heritage Division. I know how much you appreciate assessment, so this happy task has been waiting for you! Feel free to work ahead to determine what we will assess next year.
2. The sacristy is getting a little cluttered these days; it's not my mess [well, some of it isn't my mess]! As you unpack, iron and store the new concelebration vesture that's still in the box on the floor, feel free to give the Reverend Mother Norbertine Nun a call to discover where that new cope is that you had commissioned during your latest trip across the pond.
3. I have not completed all of the dispensation work on my latest 'mixed-marriages.' The paper work is on my desk so feel free to dive in -- Sal, you are so good at that stuff! (I sense a little affirmation may be necessary at this point!)
4. The gravel pit in front of the church is quite unsightly. Either form a group to get rid of the rock pile -- or in a pinch, rake up the rocks yourself. I'm sure you want a welcoming, hospitable atmosphere even more than I do, considering you've have been here longer than I! And finally,
5. DO NOT take my phone messages -- especially on Tuesday morning. You see there's a job becoming open in Green Bay -- and with my luck [and in my absence] I am afraid you might intercept the call from Rome. You'd be the first one to turn on the Sicilian charm and say yes to the invitation. As one who prides himself with the acclamation, "I'M NOT IN CHARGE!," leave my phone alone -- in fact, I'll change the password!
Friends, keep an eye on Sal in my absence. And keep an eye here as well. I have several posts that I've started, but have yet to edit. So they'll be coming your way soon via Jackie's computer. Keep in touch -- and if I do not see some of you this weekend, well meet up next Sunday.
And in just over 24 hours, "I'm not in Charge!"
Father James Baraniak, O. Praem.