Monday, June 21, 2010

Another Summer in the Northwoods

The wandering friar has just finished a week of heavy wandering. I arrived in Eagle River for weekend Masses on June 11, and flew to Syracuse, NY on June 13 to preach a retreat to the priests of that diocese, returning back to Wisconsin on June 18 to resume my ministry here for the rest of the summer.

The experience with the priests was wonderful. Though I am a veteran preacher this was only my third retreat for priests, a task which I approach with a great deal of anxiety, and also the realization that much prayer is needed to perform that task well. Many of you provided that prayer, and for that I am grateful. The priests were largely older and seasoned priests whose dedication and zeal was an inspiration to me. It struck me that with priests getting so much bad press the stories of so many who have worked hard in parishes, schools, hospitals, jails and foreign missions over the years needs to be told.

My arrival in Eagle River last week and in Phelps and Land O'Lakes this weekend was deeply touching. I was welcomed with a lot of "glad your backs" and "great to see you agains" which made me realize that the people here are such a gift to me. I travel around and me great people in so many different parishes, but I have been coming back to Wisconsin almost every year since 1995. I feel deeply a part of so many of the joys and blessings, but also the sorrows and losses of so many people here. I will never foget the prayerful support I received from then in 2006 when I could not come here due to prostate cancer. I look forward to another summer of ministering to people here, of singing in the ecumenical choir at Prince of peace Lutheran Church, walking in the Northwoods Relay for Life to fight cancer, and offering an adult faith formation program entitled Revisitng Vatican II. It should be a great summer.

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