I stayed away from church for a few years. Life was - well - life; & church wasn't on my agenda. Eventually I went back--- first to St. Mary's (so wonderfully close to my home), but eventually I decided to go back to The Community of Holy Rosary & St. John the Evangelist (HRSJ).
A lot had changed since I had left. My beloved Jesuits had left. A diocesan priest had been assigned. Through email, I knew that drama had been in full swing for a while. I am allergic to drama so I was going back on a trial basis... I wasn't going to get involved in activities, I was simply going to go back to "go to mass amongst family" & go home.
I remember my first mass back... I looked up at the processional and saw a very young man in the role of priest. I thought "hmmm... that's nice, he must be visiting". Mass was underway and his homily was meaningful and funny. To be honest, I don't recall what it was about, but I do remember that I laughed & I felt the warmness of Jesus' words while I sat and listened to this "little boy priest". Eventually I learned that he wasn't a visitor, but he was actually the PASTOR!!!! "OMG", I thought, "This is a child! The bishop sent us a child to run a parish that needs an adult to steer this ship! Well, I guess the rumors are true. The bishop has sent someone to close the parish. Oh well, that's what happens to small, poor parishes". And so, I resolved, I would attend until the parish closed. I would not fuss or argue because we weren't the first to close, and we would not be the last to close... that's what happens when you don't have enough priests.
Well, time's marched on since that day. HRSJ isn't closed. It's growing! And the "little boy priest" is still there, running the show & steering the ship. He's made quite a good captain (and priest, of course!). And while in my minds' eye he will probably always be a "little boy priest", he is far from a 'little boy'. He is loving, he is kind, he is spiritual... but more important (to me) is that he is intelligent and mature beyond his age. He knows when to speak & when to listen. He is flexible. He has taken time to get to know the parish family.
I'm glad I went back. Even though I don't get back every week, it is good to know that my "church home" is alive and well... and growing! HRSJ is the epitome of "God in in charge!"