It is hard to believe but school is starting this week for many schools including our own SaintSimon Parish School. Summers seem to be getting shorter! I remember when school started after Labor Day weekend but alas that is years ago. Nevertheless, it is exciting to have the school back and see all the students back on campus. It is always so quiet around the parish campus without the students. While we had the construction of the new STEM building keeping us company, we welcome the sight of the students and families back on site. We are praying for an awesome year ahead full of faith, fun and learning.
On Thursday, we held our school and parish staff retreat at St. Clare Retreat Center, Soquel. It was wonderful to be away and pray together. It seems more important than ever to take the time away to pray for each other and for all the students, parents, and parishioners for the year ahead. The theme of the retreat was “We are Pilgrim People.” I used the movie, “The Way” starring Martin Sheen to break open the theme. The movie has Martin Sheen arriving in France to receive the ashes of his estranged son who had died in an accident trying to walk the Camino the Santiago de Compostela. He is distraught and decides to walk the Camino with his son’s ashes, to complete what his son had started. Along the way he meets three other companions, each of them doing the “Camino” for different reasons. The first man is from the Netherlands and is walking the trail to lose weight, the second is a French-Canadian woman who is walking to give up her addiction to smoking and the third is an Irish writer hoping to overcome his “writer’s block.”
While the story is about these four characters who all seek something, it has a deeper meaning about life itself. They all complete their pilgrimage in the Cathedral of Santiago as hundreds of thousands have before them. Ironically, none of them got what they wanted, the Dutch man didn’t lose weight, the French-Canadian woman didn’t stop smoking, the Irishman realized it was not writer’s block, and Martin Sheen realized he didn’t really do it for his son only. Yes, none of them got what they wanted but each of them got what he or she needed. The roads of life work in the same way as the Camino. We get what we need, not what we want.
If only we can be more open to that reality in our own lives allowing the Lord to give us what we need and not necessarily what we want. I reminded the teachers and staff that throughout the year ahead we are called to journey with each other and genuinely listen to each other and to the stories of the children, parents and parishioners we are called to serve. I challenged all of us to think about how our classrooms and office spaces are sacred spaces where faith will be shared, stories of joy and sorrow will be told, minds will be enlightened with new learnings and if we allow it, the Lord will give us exactly what we need this year. May we all realize that every home, office or garden is our sacred space where we can journey with all who live, work or visit us.
This week, we welcome back John Angotti, our Master Liturgical Musician and Artist to journey with us. He will continue to visit for one week every month and will be working with our Music Ministries, school students and Parishioners. He will be playing at all Masses next weekend and is offering one-on-one sessions on Wednesday and Thursday – you can sign up here. As I have mentioned before, music has the unique ability to pull at our heart strings in ways that words alone cannot do. When the music touches us, we can feel the Holy Spirit draw us deeper into the heart of God. Good music at every weekend Mass is critical for me and I believe our Church must provide an opportunity for every parishioner to hear music that speaks to their heart so that they can join in the celebration. We look forward to having John, Tamami, our Choir Director, and our choirs back after the Summer. I encourage you to bring your families to Mass and invite your friends to join you and enjoy the wonderful music here at Saint Simon. I look forward to reconnecting with you all and to seeing our campus come alive as school starts back and many of our Ministries start back up after taking a break over the summer.