Summer 2019 Personal Update 1 of 3: My first summer assignment as a seminarian.
Here’s the first in a series of three updates about my activities this summer. A lot of these are from the posts I’ve made through my social media extensions over the past couple of months, and they will detail some of the things involving my first summer assignment as a seminarian.
I started my summer assignment officially on June 15. It was at a church called Our Lady of the Lake in Hendersonville, TN just 30 mins north of Nashville. It didn’t take long for me to notice how much the parish was filled with a lot of vibrant and friendly people. I felt immediately welcomed. The biggest personal goal I wanted to accomplish was simply to spend time with regular parish folks and get to know them. I wanted to get to know more of the sheep from God’s flock here in the Diocese of Nashville, and accompany them by just being present and available. Thanks be the God, I got the chance to do that all throughout the assignment, which ended July 31. I primarily did this by sitting in A lot of meetings of the various SEVNTY FIVE different ministries the parish had. This was a BIG parish. Legion of Mary (they had two presidiums), Knights of Columbus, a women’s charismatic Bible study group, Al-Anon, men’s Saturday morning Bible study group, vacation Bible school, a teen/young adult group, and more. That’s not to mention it was still the summer when churches tend to slow down a little bit in overall activity due to vacations and the traveling of parishioners and staff. I also visited nursing homes and brought Jesus to the elderly with the Legion. It was my absolute pleasure to just be with the people – being present was the best way I could try to be a “pastor/priest” to them when I cannot do anything for them sacramentally. And I got to wear my cassock all the time while doing it around the church too!
Now for some shots of the church.
The sanctuary, the outside, and ceiling.
The parish was the first established in the diocese after Vatican II in 1969. The original church building used for the parish was in a different location than the present one and was much smaller. The present one was built and dedicated in 1999 with many additions over time including a huge parish hall and a perpetual adoration chapel within the past 5 years. It is more contemporary in its style like most churches that were built/were renovated in the US went after VII. I am very much more of the traditional bent when it comes to church architecture and styling, so there were some bits of the church building’s inside that were not my taste. However, there were some parts that I did like. The outside styling of the church building itself (not shown above fully) actually looked more like a church instead of convention center or some weird office building or library. The two large major stained glass pieces in the sanctuary are beautiful. The perpetual adoration chapel built within the last five years was done well. Overall the inside of the church look pretty alright; I just thought it needed more statuary and Catholic stuff to fill it and there is a number of things I would do differently with the altar space.
The adoration chapel was placed directly behind the altar space and was separated by a glass wall/entrance. This keeps Jesus in the middle, which I think should always be the case. And yet the set up still has an homage to the too often trend after the council in church layout designs to keep Him and His tabernacle out of the way and focus. The arrangement they had has both worlds. The presider’s and deacon’s chairs are still front and center. And even though Jesus is still technically in the middle, the tabernacle’s presence is a bit muted due to the separation of the chapel from the main worship space by the glass wall/entrance. AND YET I do like the chapel, how its organized and set up, and where it at. So, I’m conflicted lol. I guess I would try to split the difference and keep the chapel where it is at and still have exposition for perpetual adoration during the week (it means a lot to the people and it has been clearly benefiting this parish through A LOT of good graces over the years since they have had it going on, even before they built the chapel) but have the tabernacle back in the sanctuary itself in the middle near the altar. Special Exposition events with the greater parish community would be had in the main part of the church for most important days and before the 5pm Vigil Mass (when they stop exposition in the chapel until after daily Mass on Mondays anyway). And, wow, this is a tangent, but these are thoughts I entertained during the assignment sometimes.
The adoration chapel with perpetual adoration every day was VERY great thing. Oh! the time spent with my Beloved and the consolations He sent me!
Moving on. I began to notice some rather good ethnic church art the church has around. Great pics for my apostolate, which I took advantage of and shared through my social medias.
The first is St. Martin de Porres (a Black Catholic Saint) tending to an animal, which he was known for. The second is a station of the cross that featured a black version of St. Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus carry the Cross. And there was a poster that had a circle graphic of the liturgical calendar, which had a surprising number of Black Catholic clergy and laity on it. It was surprising considering that most “mass” market (see what I did there?) Catholic info stuff I have seen don’t typically feature Black Catholics a lot unless it was published by a Black Catholic group, and here we are featured prominently as both clergy and active laity, and even at the center of the poster no less. When I posted this on social media I had a number of people who were interested in this poster, so if you are, here is a shot of the back of the poster featuring the publisher and the artist.
Next is one of the ways I wanted to spend myself, my talents, and energy for the people I was sent to get to know and serve.
During the last full week of my summer assignment I was able to offer a 5-day course that dove deeper into the Nicene Creed we all say at Mass without flinching. I lead lessons that went deeper into the 12 articles of the Catholic faith within the creed. I wanted to offer a opportunity for better understanding and contemplation of the creed so reciting it at Mass becomes an even more meaningful moment of prayer instead of just recitation. Some questions discussed: How did we get the creed? Where is the creed in the Bible? What does “consubstantial” mean? “Begotten” vs “proceed”? Why do we have the creed and recite it? I invite everyone the next time you say the Creed really try to ponder upon the propositions that are being stated and remember this is the Faith of the martyrs; people even today die for this creed!
Plus, I aint gon’ lie. I felt like a Black Fulton J. Sheep up there, tho. Just missing the cape. . . and the ontological change to my soul with the priesthood.
The above pics of me at the board teaching about the Last Four Things and one of my with one my many notes I used.
We got into some DEEP stuff those nights . . .
Next during the last week I was there I finally broke down and joined the Knights of Columbus after years of it just coming at me! The First Degree is where I stand.
The end of the summer assignment.
My last day was July 31, and packed up everything I had at the rectory. I was a great first summer assignment and great primer for the type of full-on ministry I will continue to do as a seminarian leading up to ordination. Thank you Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church for a great summer opportunity for service to God’s Church in Hendersonville, TN!
Yes, that is a pizza box. No slice left was left behind.
And lastly some wacky stuff.
I just appreciated that a ballon dog was there in sacristy one morning.
I swear, part of me thought kept wanting to think this was the back of a Dominican sister every time I walked into the sacristy.
Pax, and stay tuned for part 2 of the updates.