And I love my parish. In a strictly aesthetic sense, our parish is pretty... well... sad. No stained glass, no statues, no crucifix... you know, nothing that shouts, "I'm a Catholic Church!" (however, that *might* be changing within the next few years. I believe a new building is in the works)
But the people are fabulous. So supportive. So wonderful! They are quick to encourage us, and to praise our kids for their good behavior... first in line to help out... quick to offer assistance, prepare meals (after I've given birth), invite the kids over to their house to play, etc.
They've given my husband and I the opportunity to serve on various committees and groups, which has enabled us to get to know everyone better, and to become involved in everyday parish life.
Through them, I have learned that not every Christian has to "look the same." There will be major differences of opinion in certain areas, and that's OK (within reason, of course). I am a very traditional, black/white sort of person (must be those first-born traits!). I have struggled over the years to grasp the (simple) concept that the Lord often leads people in different ways. What He is teaching me at this moment is not what He is teaching you. I need to show grace to others, as they have so often shown grace to me.
I want to thank the "older folks" who welcomed my husband and me when we went to daily Mass (ah, those days before kids!). They just loved and encouraged us every step of the way, and have seen us now through 10 years of marriage (and 6 kids). I thank them for their faithfulness to their marriages, their children, and their Faith.
I thank God for the various priests we've had during these past 10 years. I can't say I've always liked their stances from the pulpit (we've had a rather left-leaning bunch) but GOD BLESS THEM for their dedication, their faithfulness, and their generosity in sharing their lives with us. May the Lord especially bless our two priests who just left. The Paulists were no longer able to staff our parish, which is actually 3 churches that covers several hundred square miles. Those two men faithfully served all three churches by themselves until just last week. We will miss them dearly. May God bless our two new priests as well!
So, here's to my parish!