Monday, September 16, 2013

Oh my God...

God is everywhere 
At one point in my life I truly doubted
that. In fact I questioned whether God
existed at all. Life's many challenges
caused me to wonder whether there
was a higher being who truly cared.
Ultimately I found that whether there
was a God or not, church provided a
refuge where I could stop, listen, and
look (at myself). Whatever you believe
in, you can connect to it if you want to.
All you have to do is get out of bed...
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Frank and I met in Chicago. Attending mass with him at Our Lady of Mount Carmel was eye opening. Our parish was a mix of old school and new world Catholicism. Father Healy had no problem chastising a wiggly child or noisy parishioner from the pulpit. On the other hand, on Sunday evenings in that same sacred place, a mass was held by AGLO (Archdiocesian Gay Lesbian Organization). No matter what mass we attended, we were loved and accepted. At that time in my life, that was exactly what I needed and nothing more!

Saint Joseph Cathedral
After leaving a major city like Chicago, we struggled and never quite adjusted to Columbus Ohio. The politics were far right, the restaurants too limited, and the shopping non-existent. The one exception was St. Joseph's Cathedral. A beautiful and historic structure, the choir was absolutely phenomenal. For four years, at least on Sundays we felt at home.

Basilica of Saint Mary
After Columbus, Minneapolis felt like Paris! While the climate was chilly, we were warmly welcomed at The Basilica of Saint Mary. It was wonderful to worship in such an amazing structure. One might assume Minnesota is rather "white bread". However what was most surprising was how politically, racially, and culturally diverse this parish was. All were welcomed!
On any Sunday multiple political agendas would be represented in tables around the lower level coffee room. The church was filled with art installations and local artists exhibited their work in the gallery. Every summer the parish threw the biggest (and hippest) block party in Minneapolis. We were blessed to be part of this community for a few years.
Saint Leo's
When we left Minneapolis, we moved to Lewistown full time as an "experiment". Honestly we had no idea how we would be accepted. The congregation at Saint Leos welcomed us with open arms. We immediately became part of the parish family. Our priest was an adopted member of our family celebrating every holiday with us. Since that year of hiatus, I feel closest to God at St. Leo's! Lewistown is truly home and proof that home is where the heart is.
Church of the Holy Family
Our first time back in New York, we worshipped at the parish of the United Nations. While we never had a papal visit, there have been several since this fabulous mid century marvel was consecrated. The choir was beyond inspiring and the congregation was made up of the faithful from the local community. It was an accepting place, reinforced by the lovely blonde lady who sat near us every Sunday. Tall, thin, and graceful, we quickly realized she had once been a he. It didn't matter as all were welcome there. AMEN!
Holy Trinity
I have to say, the only time we have ever
struggled to find a parish was in Dallas.
Every Sunday we tried almost every parish
within a thirty mile radius. Most lacked the
energy and love we'd found elsewhere. So
ultimately we gave up and attended mass at
Holy Trinity on Oak Lawn Avenue. As a
good Catholic I'll keep this short. Few sang.
Most arrived late (walking up to the front).
Many left early. And they liked to decorate.
St Ignatius Of Loyola
This time around in Manhattan we
decided to attend a new church that
would be nearer to our new home.
Ultimately we selected this venerable
Park Avenue parish. While certainly
well financed, we've found the priest,
congregation, and choir to be quite
inspiring. What's most important is
that this place helps me connect with
something greater each Sunday. You
see, it doesn't matter where you step
back and reflect, all that matters is
that you do. I'm not trying to convert
any of you, this just works for me.