The workload this week has been somewhat unbearable -- and I'm not sure why! As with many administrators at St. Norbert, I suspect, my life has been on the hour! Yesterday began at 6:30 AM and ended with a wonderful address in the Burke Hall Chapel (Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom) at 10:00 PM with a talk about Sport and Spirituality. Even though the day was filled with all sorts of meetings, one-on-ones, religious education night, and plenary gatherings; the day ended for me at 11:00 PM, feeling both 'wired and tired!'
Today was much the same! The day began at Green Bay Correctional Institution. The Mass population is escalating to 50 worshippers or so. In normal, parochial circumstances, a growing number of worshippers is good news -- at GBCI, an added measure of vigilance and caution results in the larger population of worshippers. Given some unexpected circumstances at the prison, I arrived late to SNC: as such, I missed my 10:00 AM booking.
The day continued with a meeting at LAZY GECKO in DePere as our parish religious education CORE Group met with folks from St. John the Evangelist in Green Bay -- the site for a major ministry for the homeless in a neighborhood, urban parish community. After that meeting, I attended to scheduled meetings and unexpected drop-ins who discussed with me their own personal, spiritual pilgrimages as the day continued to unfold!
Tonight I am packing for a quick trip to Houston. I'm off for the wedding of a young woman I've known since she was a child. Her family -- her parents -- are like family to me. Unfortunately, I will be in and out of Houston -- our parish celebration of FIRST COMMUNION makes my travel times very truncated! Therefore, I will drive to "Billy Mitchel" very early tomorrow morning and will return to Milwaukee-then DePere later, late Saturday night -- driving back to DePere while applying finishing touches on the Sunday homily.
As I alluded to earlier, for some reason this is a pretty hectic week. And yet, it has been a week of Grace. Priory, prison, college, parish... ... ... I have encountered the CHURCH, the People of God, in it's extraordinary variety. In many ways, I have felt like a Pilgrim, on the road to Emmaus (this Sunday's Gospel): feeling overwhelmed, yet somehow aware of the presence of the Holy! For a priest -- a Disciple of the Lord, like you, perhaps -- I cannot imagine a better place to be; a better feeling to have.
Therein lies Easter: Christ comes to us in times and places when we least expect it! In our joy for Christ's Easter presence in OUR lives, might we respond boldly and faithfully to the needs of the other in our midst; amidst the "wired" and "tired" moments of our lives: "God's flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd's care!"
Happy Easter, Still!
Father James Baraniak, O. Praem.