Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

22 June 2014

New Roads to Run

My life in the past couple of weeks has witnessed newness. The Bishop has transferred me to full-time hospital and nursing home ministry in Schuylkill County. I moved to my new digs in Saint Clair almost a week ago, and received a very warm welcome from the pastor and various parishioners.

One humorous anecdote: Having just arrived on the scene, I have not yet acquired an ID badge for the hospital, but that hasn't stopped me from visiting people. On either Tuesday or Wednesday evening I was surveying the floor, probably appearing puzzled. The nurse at the desk asked me if I could be helped. (I'm not so sure sometimes!) Anyhow, she decided to call security just to make sure I was legit. Apparently Collar-ID doesn't work anymore! I told her I didn't blame her for doing it. I can look suspicious, with shifty and furtive eyes sizing up the joint. But then, a Deus ex machina appeared in the form of one of the nurses, a parishioner who vouched for me. Since that evening, the nurse at the desk and I have exchanged friendly hellos.

Running has not abated since my arrival, but the standard routes are getting old quick. Since we have so many hills, it is meet to meet those hills head-on. Only recently have I begun to attempt hills. In the interim between the March and April marathons I took to the hills of Temple and Alsace Township in Berks County. Up here in County Schuylkill there are plenty more--steep ones, mercilessly steep. Take "the Burma"--Burma Road, so named because of its barrenness. After the coal was mined, a wasteland remained. But there is considerable forested area, good for concealing target shooters and beer-guzzling teenagers.

Another anecdote: last night after the vigil Mass I finished up six miles by coming toward the rectory from the direction of the Burma (I didn't attempt the hill, but went up only as far as a new development just past the newer crop of homes from the 1980s). No cars were behind me. The borough set up a speed-indicating sign across from the rectory and church. It showed "8," with brief vacillation between 7 and 9. The sign was working, and so was I.

I look forward to many visits, many opportunities to extend the Lord's Charity through His Word and Sacraments. "The fields are ripe for harvest" (Jn 4:35), for this area used to be known--and still is--for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. It used to be known for Catholics, for devout people of many faiths. "The Sea of Faith / Was once, too, at the full" (Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach). Every priestly contribution helps: every offering of the Lord's Sacrificial Banquet, every Hail Mary, every Anointing.

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