Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Friday Night Highlights: Pizza Party, Story Swapping, and Laughter Around the Fire Pit

Aunt Rita, John Baab, Fr. Danny, and Fr. John David at Apollo's.
This was a weekend chockful of blessings!  On Friday evening, Kevin and I got appetizers and pizza at Apollo’s with John Baab, his parents Cathy and Carl, his aunt Rita, his spiritual director from St. Mary’s Seminary Fr. Scott, two priest friends from the Richmond Diocese Fr. Danny and Fr. John David, and a good seminarian friend named Ben.  (Going to Apollo’s always makes me think of my dad because he loved to order food from the one near his apartment.  My favorite is their chicken Stromboli).

The most entertaining ministry stories we heard were about second graders and an overuse of incense, the sprinkling of Holy Water as part of renewing our Baptismal promises becoming an unfortunate occasion for humility involving an artificial branch and an unsuspecting woman’s wig, and the lone exclamation when a Pentecostal dinner celebration went up in flames and a mushroom of smoke.

Fr. Scott, Ben Fleser, Cathy and Carl Baab, and Kevin
(my babe) at Apollo's
We were invited back to the Baabs’ house to visit.  John built a fire in the backyard fire pit.  It was a comfortable spring evening.  We talked of many things, including the humor we found in a certain newspaper, most of it due to editorial oversights and/or inaccurate reporting.  I couldn’t help but think of the scene as the beginning of a joke or story.  Once upon a time, there were three priests, one seminarian, and one married couple sitting around a fire… 

Once everyone else had gone to bed or left, Kevin, John, and I got a chance to talk for a bit, just the three of us, like old times.  I made a photo collage of John’s journey from the day Kevin and I met him for Mass at the Pastoral Center when he turned in his seminary application until the month before his ordination to transitional deacon.  It was hard for all of us to fathom the time that had passed, the amount of discernment, the number of prayers, the different types of spiritual growth, and the strength of the bonds we’d developed since we became friends in March 2009. 

This is the first time Kevin and I have been such close friends, more like family, with someone who has entered seminary.  I’d really hoped we’d get a chance to gather as the three amigos we’d been for years before the big event that would transform John from a layperson into a clergyman.  I’m not a fan of change or transition, but since this is one that has been long in coming, talked and prayed about often, it’s been exciting to be part of and witness.  

Kevin and I have known all along that John would make a good deacon and priest, if that’s what God called him to.  We have felt, at times, like proud parents when we’ve seen him inducted as an acolyte and lector, serving on the altar for the Chrism Mass, playing a central role in the Easter Triduum, and assisting the Bishop at the Eucharistic table, which he did just minutes after being ordained a deacon on Saturday, May 20, 2017.                           

The pizza party was a fun way to kick-off a weekend filled with blessings and graces.  
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