Sunday, July 26, 2009

hear the drums echoing tonight

Today was the last Sunday before moving day for many priests around the diocese. The reassignments announced in May will take effect on August 1.

At All Saints Catholic Church, there was a farewell reception for Fr. Augustine Idra after the 11:45 Mass. He is going to be chaplain of Notre Dame High School and associate pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Chattanooga. They put his new mailing address in the bulletin for those parishioners who prefer to stay in touch via snail mail.

Fr. Michael Woods was the celebrant of the 11:45. At the end of Mass, he invited Fr. Augustine to come forward from the narthex while he made some moving remarks about his brother priest's birth during wartime in Sudan. Fr. Augustine sat down in one of the pews, right next to me. I gave him a nudge and whispered that he should step up to the altar and say something. His remarks were heartfelt and emotional. He repeated the joke he made on his first day at the parish, that all white people look alike.

The long receiving line in the parish hall reminded me of when Fr. Chris Michelson left the parish. They had cake and some other snacks. My friend Mike, who works for the Knoxville Symphony, brought his accordion and played the Chicken Dance in honor of Fr. Augustine. The beloved African priest is known for his rendition of the dance at many parish functions.

At the reception, I had a chance to visit with one of my favorite patient families from the annual Radiothon for Children's Hospital. Many listeners were moved to tears when their little Lindsey Ann said that the doctors took the cancer out and made her a princess. Lindsey was running around the parish hall until it was time to have her picture taken with Fr. Augustine.

A parishioner named Jane, whom I had met a few years ago, came up to me and said she had recently met my aunt and uncle. Wondering how that could have happened, I asked if she had confused me with someone else. No, she was sure it was me. Jane and her husband Ken were on a Mediterranean cruise aboard the Noordam and had dinner with a couple from Virginia. When the subjects of Knoxville and Catholicism came up, the man from Virginia asked the lady from Tennessee if she knew his nephew, which turned out to be me. She did.

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Blogger Fr. Christian Mathis said...

It is quite a bit of change. Keep us all your prayers.


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