Usually, the summer months have a different feel than the months of the school year. They can be more relaxed, ruled by a slower pace and filled with more opportunities for rest and relaxation. There might be a chance for some travel, spending time with family and friends we don’t see more often during other times of the year.
This summer is going to be a bit different for me, as I move from serving as pastor of St. Jude in DeWitt to my new assignment as pastor of St. John the Evangelist parish in Fenton. I have already spent a fair amount of time sorting through my things to figure out what I will take with me, what will be donated to charity and what can be recycled. Soon, boxes will need to be packed, loaded and unloaded, and things put in place in a new location. Then the real work will begin. I will need to learn new names and faces, adjust to different schedules, and absorb a new parish history. I will need time to just listen and learn.
Somewhere in the middle of all this change, I will also need to make sure that I hold on to the patterns that help to anchor my daily life: prayer, time for quiet reflection, making more time to focus on my Sunday and daily preaching. I will likely have to bring back a pattern I used early in my priestly life, making “appointments” with God and these other core responsibilities on my daily calendar for a while until I am able to establish new patterns and habits of prayer and reflection rooted in both a new place and new schedule. Although it might sound a little silly to make “appointments with God,” this process worked for me when I was first ordained and I am hoping it will work well for me in my new parish home.
Even though the summer can be a time of rest and relaxation, it is also a time of year that poses many challenges because our summer schedules can be so different from those that we keep during other times of the year. With a slate of different activities planned for kids, the challenges of travels to see family and friends, and the more relaxed pace of the summer, I think it will be important for all of us to work at making those appointments with God. Sunday Mass and daily prayer are hallmarks of our Christian living. New or changed schedules may require us to re-establish or modify these God-centered habits so that we don’t lose them.
Travel to an unfamiliar destination can pose a particular challenge when it comes to attending Mass on Saturday evening or Sunday. Masstimes.org is a great response to this challenge. This easy-to-use website allows anyone to find Mass times at a nearby Catholic church simply by plugging in an address or ZIP code.
I’m looking forward to this summer and the opportunities that will be part of moving to a different parish. As I make this transition, I plan to make some extra time to spend with God. Mixed in with time for family, travel, ongoing formation, retreat and relaxation, I hope that the extra time will be an opportunity for God to go to work on me, so that God might continue to work through me. I pray that this summer provides those same opportunities for all of us. And so our journey in FAITH continues.
Father Dwight Ezop is editor of FAITH Magazine and pastor of the Catholic Community of St. Jude. E-mail: editor@FAITHmag.com.