For the past three and a half days I had to pretend that nothing had changed when I knew as of 1:45 p.m. Tuesday that everything had, or at least soon would. This was made especially difficult as so many of the high school students kept telling what plans and hopes they had for me in the coming year. All I could say was, “We’ll see.” I wanted to crawl under a desk and hide.
Naturally, some of the kids noticed that something was bothering me and so they kept hounding me trying to get me to speak. All I could tell them was that I couldn’t yet say, but on Friday they would know.
Some of them put the pieces of the puzzle together and arrived at the right conclusion and were mad at me that I was leaving and that I wouldn’t tell them when.
Let it suffice to say that the last several days were not easy. I think, over the course of two nights, I slept for a combined four and a half hours. Last night I finally slept for six hours. Having the 6:30 a.m. Mass this week didn’t help with sleeping.
The high school yesterday had a half day of school, which ended with a Mass with their parents. It was at this Mass that I first publicly announced my new assignment.
Since I was subbing for a teacher the last three days, I brought my class over to the church early so that I could set up for Mass. As I did so, the students again showed their love and reminded me most clearly of why this move will be hard, even though I know that many blessings will come my way in Virden and Girard.
The two senior servers were already at the church and were getting things set up. There wasn’t a great deal to prepare, really. The Paschal Candle had to be lit, the water and wine prepare, along with the hosts, and a few patens had to be set out. All of this would take two people five minutes, tops.
As I talked with the two servers, who have become good friends over the years, six of the sophomore boys came into the sacristy asking to help set up. I was deeply touched.
They then said they were going to sit in the front few and were going to make the responses well and sing the songs. They simply wanted to help. And they’d already guessed the news.
Since they were going to be in the front pew, I sent them back to the high school to grab my camera to take pictures during the Mass.
I nearly lost all composure as I placed the stole around my neck and was very clearly reminded of the yoke of Christ and of my obedience to him and to the Bishop. His burden may be light, but sometimes it sure feels heavy.
I made the announcement after Communion. It was received as well as could be expected, with much shock and sadness, together with congratulations. I nearly broke down twice, but by the grace of God I was able to keep it together well enough, though my love for the kids was clearly seen and I had to pause a number of times before continuing.
When I finished my words, they rose to their feet and applauded for I’m not sure how long. Since the announcement, it has been a humble pleasure to hear how the Lord has used me to touch so many of them.
When I returned to the sacristy after greeting people after the Mass, the sophomore boys were waiting for me there to take me to lunch. Four others tried to join us at the restaurant, but the table wasn’t big enough. So I made sure to pop over to their table to thank them.
I feel so much better now that I no longer have to keep the assignment secret. The kids understand and are no longer mad at me, though they don’t want to see me go.
I already have six or eight of them who have claimed the lead of the caravan to move me to Virden. As I think about this I am deeply grateful and can only smile.