Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Day in the Life of the Country Curate

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to give my family and friends an opportunity to "follow me around" so to speak...to allow them to see for themselves what I'm up to. Ever since I arrived in Caribou I have received any number of phone calls and messages from them asking me how I'm doing, how I like my new assignment, what life is like in northern Maine, etc. Whatever we end up talking about, there is always one question that everyone keeps posing: "so...what exactly do you do all day?" I think this comes from their fear that I'm sooooo far north that I must be twiddling my thumbs all day in boredom. After all...can there really be that much for a country curate to do?

Well, to alleviate all your anxieties, let me just say that I am in no way bored and have plenty to do! My days are full...sometimes too full...and they are very dynamic. So in order to make this a little more concrete, I've decided to share with you what a "typical" day is like for me.

The first stop of my morning: the chair.
5:30 AM - My alarm goes off. I immediately hit the snooze button and play the "just five more minutes" game for the next half-hour. It's pathetic really...there's just something about the early morning that makes my skin crawl! But sometime around 6:00 I get tired of being tired and manage to role out of bed to begin my morning ablutions.

6:30 AM - If all has gone according to plan, once I'm "put together" I'll mosey over into my sitting room and plop myself down into one of my really comfortable wing-back chairs. If it's a dark or rainy morning I'll turn my lights off, light the oil lamp that sits on my end-table, and bask in the glory of the morning bleakness. There's just something about a gloomy morning rain that does my heart good! Usually I'll turn on the news or the weather for 15 minutes just to help me get adjusted to the day.

7:00 AM - At this point I usually get around to beginning my prayers. I'll venture into the church to make a holy hour, say my Office, do some spiritual reading, and think about what I'm going to say during my homily at Mass.

Getting things laid out before daily Mass at Holy Rosary.
8:30 AM - Now the real fun begins...this is the daily Mass time-slot. On Tuesdays I'll celebrate Mass at St. Denis Church in Fort Fairfield; on Wednesdays at Holy Rosary Church in Caribou; on Thursdays at Sacred Heart Church in North Caribou, and on Fridays either at Holy Rosary or at one of the area nursing homes. After Mass I usually spend a half-hour or so meeting with some of the daily Mass attendees, checking in on how the Lord is at work in their lives.

9:30 AM - First, coffee. Iced coffee...and lots of it. I abide by the older fasting tradition of not taking anything except water prior to Mass, so by the time daily Mass is over I'm itching for some coffee. I'll fix myself a quick bowl of Cheerios and then head into the office to check phone messages, e-mails, etc. Surprisingly this eats up more time than you might think...I'm kind of scared to think what it'll be like when I'm more situated here and people think to call me! After doing all the necessary correspondence stuff, the morning could really bring anything. Maybe I have to do a committal at the cemetery; maybe I have a couple morning appointments (parish meetings, meetings with parishioners, etc.); maybe it's a little slow and I get a chance to work on my Sunday homily a bit. For the month that I've been here no two mornings have been the same...I imagine this will continue to be the case as things pick up come September.

11:00 AM - Funerals. Most of the funerals that occur within our parish are scheduled at this time. This is very helpful in terms of having enough time to get out to some of the more remote churches and getting to the funeral home prior to the funeral Mass if you didn't get a chance to go the night before. During my first two weeks here I was inundated with funerals...I had one almost every day! Sometimes people don't realize just how involved a funeral is on the priest's end...there's the preliminary meeting with the family of the deceased, the vigil prayers at the funeral home, the preparation of the funeral homily, the funeral mass itself, the burial, and then the funeral luncheon. Here in northern Maine funeral luncheons are big things...we have some amazing ladies at all of our churches who work on putting on a really splendid luncheon (with fantastic spreads, I must say) for each and every funeral. It's really quite amazing. I always go to the funeral luncheons, not only because Father is expected to be there to say the prayer, and not only because I get a hearty lunch, but because it's a prime time for evangelization. I've already had a couple experiences at funeral luncheons where someone who hasn't been to church for awhile will pull me aside to talk to me - sometimes it results in confession, other times a strong, but kind invitation for them to return. Needless to say, funerals are part of the (almost) daily life of this country curate, and as work-intensive as they are, it's all worth it. 

1:00 PM - If I didn't go to a funeral luncheon, I'll usually pop back into the rectory kitchen to make myself a quick lunch and to rest for 15 minutes or so. I'm in the habit now of just sitting at the kitchen table listening to some nice soothing music as I wolf down a sandwich. It really does help the rest of the afternoon go smoothly. Soon thereafter, though, the afternoon appointments start showing up. And when I don't have any appointments, I'll either be working on my homily, visiting the sick at the nursing homes or hospitals, or doing some home visitations. 

5:00 PM - Depending on what's going on, I'll usually stop to take a breather and to say some more of my Office. The evenings are just as up-in-the-air as the mornings and afternoons for a country priest though...on any given evening there might be a meeting to go, marriage prep to do, funeral homes to go to, etc. At some point I work in dinner...although I must admit that many of dinners are of the microwavable genre that I can eat at my desk. I do have to get better about this...

The setting sun now dies away
and darkness comes at close of day...
8:00 PM - By this time, things are usually done for the day...unless an emergency call comes through. I like to spend these last few evening hours reading, making phone calls to friends and family, perusing the wonders of the Internet, taking in a movie, or now...blogging! I'll retire to my quarters upstairs, pour myself a cup of sleepy-time tea, and relax so that I can be ready to go in the morning. By 10:30/11:00 I'll say Compline and put myself to bed.

So there you have it...a little peak into what my life is typically like. For some, it's too hectic...for others, it's not hectic enough. But it's the life of a priest, the life of a country curate, it's my life...and I'm glad it is.

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