Saturday, November 07, 2015

Up to the minute

Last-minute Charlie.  That’s me this week – and many weeks.  Here I am trying to write you before I race out the door to drive to Cambridge, Maryland, for our biennial Archdiocese of Washington Priests Convocation. 
Cardinal McCarrick initiated it more than ten years ago., and it was so well received that it has continued since then, with enthusiastic attendance by the priests of the Archdiocese.  We do all the things associated with professional conferences – big conferences, big meals, breakout group discussions -- and then some things that aren’t so common:  like Mass, Vespers, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and Confession. 
For the part called “professional development” there is always a significant guest speaker or two.  This year it is Father Thomas Rosica C.S.B, who is the English language coordinator for the Vatican Press Office.  He should have a lot to tell us!  And of course, Cardinal Wuerl gets to gather us around, explain things, and exhort us.
The best part is just being together with all the guys – the other priests of the Archdiocese.  You may not believe it, but we do not get to see one another that often, except for our closest friends.  Even with them, sometimes we go way too long!  We will have a few big ballroom dinners together, and also a lunch when we can go out in groups.  There is a golf course there, for those so inclined (not me).  And in the evenings once the program is done, we sit around the fire pit and, well, talk.  It’s great.
And here at Saint Bernadette, Father Gallaugher and I are blessed both to be able to attend without interrupting the schedule at the parish.  Father Markey is taking both morning Masses both days we are away!  Thank him for that – I know I do.  I do not know how other parishes are managing.  I know some parishes cancel things, even Masses, and some leave one of their priests at home to guard the fort and handle the calls.  Poor them!  It is a gift not to have to do that. 
The Convocation is a great boost to us, and usually gives us more material to work with as we head toward the end of the year, and the start of Advent (that train is coming fast).  It is also relaxing, which is rare and welcome in the life of parish priests.
Now I had better go pack and race out the door.  I hope I don’t get stuck in traffic at the Bay Bridge!  I will see you all once I get back – and with luck you will be able to tell I had a good week.  Even if I am a bit of a last-minute Charlie.

Monsignor Smith

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