This is the third part in a series I am doing as a companion piece to my wife’s blog. She is explaining in a six-part series how she came to join the Catholic church this last Easter, so I thought I would flesh out some of the details as I experienced what she experienced. You can read her blog at www.meganwillome.com.
In today’s post, my wife introduces our local priest, Msgr. Enda McKenna. Let me give you a description of Enda. If every priest were like Enda then everyone would want to be Catholic. If every Christian pastor were like Enda then everyone would want to be a Christian. You get the idea. He is a sweet, gentle soul. I often describe him as a doll of a man. Just precious. He’s in his early seventies. He has soft white hair and an Irish twinkle in his eye. He grew up in Northern Ireland, and has that slightly whimsical Irish stereotype about him. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, and I adore him. Here is a picture:
Through my work, I am privileged to be a member of our local ministerial association, even though I joke that I am the amateur Christian among the professionals. That is where I first met Enda. He is the first Catholic priest since I have lived here to actively participate in our ecumenical Christian ministerial association (okay, there has only been one other priest since I lived here, but I was really impressed when he started to show up and participate). Without exception, all of the pastors in the association love Enda. One retired Baptist pastor has particular affection for him. Enda was one of the first pastors to reach out to him when he lost a son to a car accident.
So that’s a description of Enda. Now, back to our story. When last we left off, my wife had started visiting St. Mary’s during the Christmas season, and I was visiting a church that meets in a bowling alley. Our two children, daughter who was 11 and son who was 14 weren’t visiting with us because we felt like were were in such flux, so we were doing family worship services together on Sundays. I also started having a Friday morning breakfast with one of the men from the bowling alley church so that we could share our lives and develop our relationships with God.
Around March of 2011, about three months after my wife and I were attending different churches, I mentioned to my friend, Tom, that I was feeling really disconnected spiritually from her. He looked at me and his advice was profound. I think I have this quote right: “You need to suck it up and go to church with your wife.” Hmm. That wasn’t the advice I was looking for. I had hoped he would encourage me to work through this with her in a way that we would both find a church together. But God obviously had her on a bit of a spiritual quest, trying to make some sense of her own relationship with Him given the loss of her mother and how her own view of her Christianity might have been wrapped up with her mother’s. As I said in my last post, it wasn’t that I resisted going to St. Mary’s because it was Catholic. I resisted because it was liturgical. Having grown up Baptist, visiting Lutheran churches was about as liturgical as I had gone. Worshipping Sunday after Sunday in the Catholic style…scared isn’t the right word. Let’s just say, it didn’t enthuse me.
I started attending St. Mary’s with her in early March 2011, and I talked to Enda at one of the ministerial association meetings about us visiting St. Mary’s. He had seen me there with her and wondered. I told him that Megan would probably enjoy a chance to visit with him about what she was experiencing, so I think he made it a point to visit with her that Sunday morning that she describes in today’s post. That is not to say that Enda wouldn’t have sought her out anyway. He is a generous soul and as accessible a Catholic priest as I have ever known, willing to change his schedule at the drop of a hat for anyone. But I think he was particularly aware of my wife’s quest as a result of our conversation at the ministerial association.
That’s where Megan ends her narrative, so that’s where I’ll sign off too. We’ll see you next Wednesday with Part 4.