Last Wednesday, my family and I did something that was very difficult, while at the same time the decision to do so came very easily. After fourteen years, we changed parishes. It was sad because of the things that we were leaving behind but it was easy for a couple of reasons. We have so much to gain by changing and so much to lose if we did not.
Leaving after fourteen years in one place leaves me with a lot of sadness. We leave behind a lot of memories and a lot of friends.
It was at my old parish that I was confirmed as an adult on Pentecost by the parish priest. My wife, Abby, and I had been married outside of the church so during this same time period of "reversion" we had our marriage blessed there. Abby had been raised in the Methodist tradition but she went through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) and was welcomed into the Catholic church there at Easter Vigil in 2000.
My children, the biggest reason for my "reversion," received their sacraments there. They were baptized and received their first communion. My oldest was confirmed by Bishop Finn there.
I've spent hundreds of hours ministering and catechizing teens there. I spent so much time in that church teaching kids about their faith. I spent the night there several times for lock-ins. I remember gathering there before going on retreats, canoe trips or mission trips. My family and I had many laughs in the parish hall during different dinners, donuts after mass or trivia contests.
We will miss the friends we leave behind. There are so many good parishioners there. They are good, holy people that we love very dearly.
We will be losing a lot by leaving but we have so much to gain.
I love going to mass at my new parish. It is so very reverent. There is an attitude there that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. I do not get the feeling that the mass is a show or a production like I did at my former parish. I trust that, liturgically, everything will be done according to the norms and regulations set forth by the Church and not according to what the priest or liturgist thinks.
We feel welcome at our new parish. Sadly, due to conflicts I had with our former parish priest and members of the parish staff, I did not feel that my family or I were welcome at our old parish. I did not feel comfortable with the looks and attitudes I received by certain people there. I want to reiterate---the parishioners there were wonderful and the parishioners made me feel very loved.
Finally, I feel that my new parish is faithful to all of the teachings of the Catholic Church. I feel that my family and I will be spiritually fed, spiritually challenged and spiritually defended. I did not feel this way at my former parish and as the spiritual head of my household, I have a responsibility to ensure that they are not left spiritually hungry or vulnerable.
It really saddens me to leave. We are leaving so much behind. But it's what we feel we have to do. I am excited about the change. I can't tell you how much I love my new parish, priests and fellow parishioners (including my sister).