At 2:55PM on Tuesday I made the casual remark that, although we have a lot to do, and Bishop Gries OSB is coming on Friday to have Mass at the Julie Billiart School at St. Sebastian, there are no major events at the parish this weekend so it should be a relatively relaxing weekend for a change.
At 3:00PM I received a phone call. "Bishop Perez wants to have Mass at St. Sebastian this weekend. Can that be arranged?"
Can it? Ha! I was terribly excited to welcome our brand new bishop down to the southern part of his diocese! How ultimately awesome! And an honor!
Then the doubts set in. "Is he coming down because we did something right or because we did something wrong?" (As it turns out he is going to be visiting every parish as he can and we just happened to have an early pull from the parish jar - but I didn't know that then.)
The rest of the week was a blur of getting ready. A friend said, "Do you realize that you turn in to your Mother whenever a bishop is coming to St. Sebastian?" With dread comprehension I knew it to be true. Cecil B. Demille would have been proud of my pre-production preparations. One of the best lasting effects have been that now it is Monday morning and things that I have been wanting to have fixed/cleaned in the rectory and church were taken care of for the Bishop's visit and today we enjoy it.
But there are so many things over which one just doesn't have control. When does the battery in the air conditioner unit in the rectory decide to die? While the Bishop is here. When does every "empty" or "full" alarm go off in the rectory? When the Bishop is here. Of course.
It was a beautiful things seeing the church packed however. The only thing that made me nervous was that my cousin Steven, a bit of a prankster, was sitting in the front pew. And guess what, Bishop Perez likes to walk around when he gives a homily. Guess where he stood the majority of the time. In front of Steven who looked at me with his mischievous grin and wiggled his eyebrows.
By and large it was a great pastoral visit by our new shepherd. The next visit, now that we know how to care and feed the shepherd will be much less stressful.
Speaking of shepherds, Bishop Roger Gries OSB had the very first Mass at the Julie Billiard School at St. Sebastian, Akron on Friday. That was much less stressful for the three priests here at St. Sebastian, Fr. Simone, Fr. Trenta and me. It was more of a challenge for him. From my years in children's theater I have learned that children are brutally honest. And the can be like water, flowing in unpredictable places.
Bishop Gries had a wonderful Mass and during part of his homily he went down to speak to the K-2nd grade students.