"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."
We said goodbye to our beloved priest today. Tomorrow there will be a new priest, and I hear he's great. I am feeling a little like the step-child that doesn't want to like the new "dad" just because the mom does. He's going to have to win me over.
We moved to this neighborhood just days before Rojo was born and just days before this priest came to this parish. And Rojo left the school just days before this priest leaves, too. You don't think that's an accident, right?
The priest did a Mass this school year where he used the Josh Groban lyrics and talked about the importance of raising each other up - not tearing each other down. Then he demonstrated by having the eighth grade boys lift him up. It was powerful. I tear up each time I look at my photo from that day. I tear up each time I say goodbye to this priest (and I've been dragging it out - it's been three goodbyes so far). I tear up each time I think of how I wouldn't have reconciled so many powerful and persistent inner struggles had it not been for this man - a man who 100% gets it. A man who preaches on a God of love. A God that does not want our sacrifices - only our heart. A God that forgives. A God that heals. A God that does not "give" us our struggles, but the grace by which to handle them. A man who lives his life like the God he shares with us.
It's fair to say I would not have found a church home at all had it not been for this man. It's fair to say that he has shown me what can be right about "organized religion" and the power of a faith-based community. It's fair to say this man has inspired hundreds and hundreds of people in his 15-years in this parish. It's fair to say his legacy will live on and on and on, because we've been raised up. And up we will stay.