As you can probably tell by the recent lack of posts, this past week has been a busy blur.
After soccer practice Friday evening about thirty of the high school students came to the rectory to help load my personal effects onto the trailers and into the trucks that would take me to Virden the next day.
It took about three hours to get everything loaded, most likely simply because there were too many of us there to coordinate things well and I hadn't planned on so many (you'd think I might've learned after Monday's turnout...).
Typically in such situations you end up, as it were, with too many chiefs and not enough indians; we had too few of either but plenty of jesters. Toward the end it became a bit hectic, but I'm glad so many came to help.
Saturday morning I celebrated my last Mass at St. Anthony's as Parochial Vicar. After Mass, one of the parishioners gave me a farewell gift of delicious chocolate chip cookies.
That morning the soccer team played against Mater Dei high school at Bulldog Field. The boys played the best game I've seen them play eventhough they lost 1-3.
The boys came onto the field wearing wristbands made from atheletic tape with an overlapping D and Z on them in imitation of my initials they found on a wax seal they found when helping to pack my things. I was very touched and knew then they intended to play that game for me. I was humbled and proud.
Just before the game, they presented me with a ball bearing each of their signatures and jersey numbers. It was a most fitting gift.
After the game we hopped into the vehicles and made our way to Virden after a mostly uneventful drive. Twelve students accompanied me and three others met us in Virden that evening.
It took only one hour to unload the trucks and trailers, much to my surprise. I concelebrated Mass with Father Sperl at 5:30 and joined the parishioners afterwards for a potluck dinner to thank Father Sperl for his ministry over twenty-six years and to welcome me.
The parishioners welcomed me very warmly and were very hospitable to the students who came to help me move. It was a good and relaxing evening and I look forward to meeting more of the parishioners in the coming days and weeks.
The students and I returned to the rectory and continued unpacking for a bit before retiring for the night.
I celebrated Mass at 8:15 Sunday morning and then continued unpacking. That day happened to be the parish's annual fried chicken dinner so my helpers and I attended the dinner and enjoyed a delicious meal. I was really impressed with the food and the organization of the event.
After more unpacking we left for Effingham so they could finish their homework.
The priests of the Diocese gathered in Effingham this week for their annual convocation, which concluded this morning.
I am now in the rectory in Virden and have spent a good part of the evening unpacking my library; I still have a way to go.
In the morning I have to make an unplanned and quick return to Effingham to pick up some drycleaning I forgot to pick up before I left this afternoon. I'll also pack up some Christmas decorations that I intended to pick up Sunday afternoon.
In the afternoon I'll meet with my secretary and see where our conversation leads.
Saturday I will be in Springfield teaching a class on the Creed for the lay ministry formation program and Sunday morning the Diocesan Administrator will come to install as pastor of these two parishes.
Hopefully next week will be a bit slower than this week.