It seems that just about this time each year, as we approach our Annual Meeting, I try to come up with some idea about why we need to use the time we’re given to do the work God has put us here to do. Annual Meetings are like that for me. I look back on the previous year. What did we accomplish? What did we try and actually succeed at? What did we at least try but fail to achieve? Where are we now? Are we in a better place than a year ago? And on and on. But the underlying question for me still remains: how did I use my time and what did I let pass me by?
And then I got a phone call Tuesday evening. A person called the church office looking for “the parish priest,” so he ended up calling my cell. It seems he had an unusual request. He was trying to track down an older priest whom he wasn’t sure if I ever heard of, but this priest had once been very kind to him and helped him out. (He kept it vague and I didn’t press. I’m sure there is a story here but it’s not for me to know!) The caller “wasn’t in a good place back then” so many decades ago, but now life had changed and he wanted to make things right. He “needed” to find him and thank him. He wondered if there was some kind of Diocesan book or directory he could use to track the priest down.
Funny, (or not), as it turned out, I knew that priest. But I had to inform the caller that he had passed away a long time ago. He wasn’t going to have that chance to say “thanks” or whatever else he may have needed to say. I thought I heard him get a bit weepy, and I told him to remember and pray for that priest.
All of this brings me back to Annual Meetings and reflecting on how we used our time last year, and what we did and did not do. We always foolishly assume we’ll have time to do whatever it is we wish. And yet, that telephone call was just another reminder that our time passes so quickly and if we put off the good we ought to do, we may never get the chance to do it. This applies to people. This applies to parishes. I wish we would learn this!