Goodbye & Hello

Glenmary News

Goodbye & Hello

Every Glenmary Home Missioner spends much time saying goodbyes and hellos. My various assignments during 40 years of mission life have been great, challenging, and sources of much joy. Each mission assignment seems better than the last.

My challenge, though, is saying goodbye. When I hear I will be moving, often my reaction is, “Oh no!” In my heart, I know it is time to move on, but why does it always seem so hard? As departure time gets closer, the thoughts of moving get heavier. What do I do first? The list of people to say goodbye to supersedes packing. I can pack late at night; saying goodbye is what is important.

Saying goodbye

My last goodbye from Tennessee brought a humble sense of gratitude. I was pastor for nine and a half years at Holy Family parish in Macon County. The parishioners were family. Several dinners led to speeches of thanks for my ministry. I had made mistakes, but in my heart I had always tried my best. From the smallest to the oldest, these words of thanks would live on in my heart—words like, “Thank you for baptizing my children,” “When I needed help, you were there,” “The trip to the beach was the best,” and “I remember when you sat with us at the hospital.”

At my last Mass, a tear filled my eye as I shared my last homily as their pastor. I remember the love of Jesus always being a light for us, and we are called to be light for others. The goodbye celebrations were filled with stories, laughter, and songs. When all left, I was not alone. I was with God. I slept with warm memories in my head.

Morning comes all too soon. I pack the car and as I drive away I ask, Who will take Communion to Mike? Will the Smith family join the Church? Will Bill get the food he needs? I respond, Yes, the new ministry team will continue but not with me.

Hello to a new journey

The endless road continues, a new parish, new people. I am a little anxious. Will they like me? Will I like them? From experience, when one leaves, he/she goes from being the very best to a new assignment that is very slow at first. People will not know me. Will they like my homilies? New relationships will take a while. I need to pray, and be patient: O Lord, help me.

The first Sunday comes, and there are many smiles. I can’t remember their names. My joke did not go over well. I guess I did not tell them to laugh. The Eucharist is celebrated with great gratitude. The Mass ends. I feel relieved. What now? 

I am close to the door when a 10-year-old comes up to me. “My parents want you to join us for lunch today. Can you come?” he asks.

Yes, surely I can come. My life in my new home begins. Relationships of love begin to shine. I say to myself, Thank the Lord!

–Father Vic Subb

This story was originally featured in the Glenmary Challenge.