I am a little embarrassed and a bit overwhelmed, a lot grateful and much humbled this morning.
I went to a Chiefs watch party last night organized by some incredible friends to help me out with a financial set-back I recently encountered here at Saint Charles Parish. Some at the watch party said that they had been watching our progress here at the parish for the past three-and-a-half years and we recognized some parallels between what we watched in the game: progress, set-backs, and surprises, a devastating injury, and unforeseen heroes…as well as parallels in the Chiefs’ season thus far: strong start, fortunate victories, disappointing play and losses, renewed hope, lots of question marks…and we’re still in the first half of a long season.
If you have been watching what is happening here, you know that I was sent to a parish that, over the previous decade, suffered a nearly 70% drop in school enrollment, 40% drop in parishioner contributions, and roughly 50% drop in Mass attendance. As I worked with the faithful community of Saint Charles to rebuild and revitalize, we reached some benchmarks and made tremendous accomplishments while also meeting unforeseen challenges which surface regularly. One of those unforeseen obstacles was going to cost us $40,000 for a project that someone pledged to cover but failed to do so. Knowing that parishioners were doing their part, digging deep and carrying the burden for so many who had left, I had to go outside the parish once again. Reluctantly, I contacted my dear friends, Danny and Mary Ann Welsh, to pitch an idea to raise the necessary funds but, as it turned out, it was a bad idea. Instead, they offered to organize a watch party for the Chiefs’ game against Denver and simply ask other friends to pitch in to help me out of this latest hole. To make a long story short, our friends raised more than the $40,000 at the gathering.
I feel a bit like my favorite movie character, George Bailey, when so many good friends came to his rescue after Uncle Billy lost the $5,000 from the Savings & Loan to Mr. Potter. Though I didn’t think about jumping off a bridge because of the jam I was in, I did feel the presence of angels all around me—and they were much more competent and every bit as charming as Clarence. Last night, I was reminded again that it is a wonderful life. My angels included Bill and Colleen Teasdale who hosted the gathering, Mike and Maggie Garozzo who provided the feast, Kim White and Heidi Kopp who joined Mary Ann to oversee the hundred details of hospitality, and Tom McCullough and Tom McDonnell who, like Sam Wainwright, are always willing to help those in our city and church to advance goodness and make the world better. It was overwhelming that they all jumped in to assist according to their means; and no one asked me why I got in this jam. Instead they assured me how grateful they are for our Catholic community that helps each other when needed.
At the watch party, we witnessed the Broncos score first and put our team in a hole, we saw our star MVP quarterback go down in painful injury, we cheered our defense as they rose up, we wondered about a third-string retired quarterback who stepped in to do what needed to be done, and we felt a renewed spirit that rallied the troops from field to watch parties. The gathering rallied my spirits, too. One of the younger persons at the party told me that he recently started reading my blog posts and was grateful that I write about important and relevant matters in the church. He asked what I would write about next. I said, “I think I’ll write about tonight.” The victory in the seventh game of the season, breaking a two-game losing streak, was important and relevant to The Chiefs. What happened at the watch party was equally important and relevant to me in helping Saint Charles stay on track and reminding me of the amazing grace of wonderful friends and good people who make things better quickly.
Thank you! It is, indeed, a wonderful life. There will be plenty of ups and downs for The Chiefs and for Saint Charles Borromeo as we go forward to complete what we’re here to do. Keep watching.