I just cleaned off most of the top of my desk, and the surface was suddenly so inviting that it seemed like as good a time as any to pen a “good bye”. That, and a chance to procrastinate from wiping off the dust bunnies hat have apparently been breeding in the corners that haven’t been touched since I moved into this lovely office (For those who remember, the water holding the Holy Water is still resting where it dropped. Still not sure what to do about that one.)
In addition to discarded sacramental containers, I’m encountering permission slips, fliers and pictures from events that I can hardly even remember the details of, because the memories of my time at St. Francis began when I started part-time in the fall of 2006 and surpass the 18 month average life span of a youth minister by quite a few years (I’d give you exact numbers… But I’m a youth minister, not a mathmetician). I have loved every moment here— every retreat, every dodgeball, every slice of pizza discovered months later, wedged in the cushions of the couch… even the night at camp that my air mattress was stolen and hidden in the ceiling of the boy’s sleeping quarters. (Disclaimer: it was found and returned in compliance with Diocesan safe environment policies).
I’ve been blessed to work with a wonderful and holy pastor, and priests who are a gift to the Church and a talented staff and parish community that has always been incredibly supportive of both me as an individual and the mission of youth ministry. From volunteers who seem to work 80 hours a week to bake sales that net around $4000— it’s clear everyone in this parish loves to serve, especially when it’s for the kiddos.
I say all this to assure everyone that my decision to move away from so many wonderful people was not an easy decision to make, nor do I think of it as even a “decision”, as much as God introducing new people and places into my life, showing me that while I am certainly comfortable here and it will always be my hometown, that it is when we leave the familiar that God works in ways we never imagined. I am excited to share with the my facebook/blogging/twitter & anyone else I haven’t seen in a bit, that I will begin youth ministry at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Panama City, Florida in mid-July. As much as I loathe the cliché, it is can only be described as bittersweet to be simultaneously saying “good bye” to family and friends here and be so warmly welcomed to the Florida panhandle by those I’ve begun to meet. (Did I say that right? Is it “The Panhandle” or “The Emerald Coast”? I know it’s definitely not Disneyworld… I may need to get a map.) The point is, I’m very excited about where God is leading.
Although busy with packing and final transitions, the next few weeks are going to be a blast—I am currently working with a very talented youth minister who will be taking over as the director at St. Francis in July and get to spend my last week as youth at St. Francis leading 20 youth and adults on a mission trip to Mustard Seed Communities in Nicaragua from June 23-30. I’m excited to be able to attend one more mass and fellowship Sunday when we get back into town on July 1 and, God willing, I’ll be moving to Panama City the first week of July to begin at St. John the Evangelist the next week.
I tell myself that this isn’t really a permanent departure from Hilton Head (this is also what I tell my parents, as I stack boxes for them to store as I transition) since I’ll obviously be back to visit my parents and grandmothers. I’ve loathed saying “good bye” to people, preferring instead to say, “I’ll be back to hang out”. But behind that pithy response is the very real sadness to leave such wonderful family, Church and friends-- as evidenced by the fact that I’ve even started hugging people.
If I may selfishly ask for your prayers—for our new youth minister, for safe travels and an enriching mission trip, that housing in Panama City works out as I hope—but most of all that I, who much prefers sarcasm to sentimentality, can actually give a heartfelt “good bye” to all who have been so good to me for so many years.
But seriously, I really will be back to visit.