If I wrote the “penultimate” column in the previous paper, this would be the “ultimate,” the last one. However, as we all know, what appears to be true is not necessarily the whole truth or the whole story, in this case. We’ll see, as my mother told me when I asked her repeatedly what would happen in the next day, week, month — you get the idea.
Looking forward to what comes next can produce anxiety or possibly exhilaration, depending on the person and the attitude. At this point, I am balancing both. Stepping out into the world of Catholic journalism 25 years ago, local, national and international problems were brewing that caught me unawares. I will not go slogging through the list, but one recurring story that has impacted this diocese more than many others is the sexual abuse crisis that broke open in the 1990s. I was new to The Messenger and although I had grown up here, I had no idea of the depth and breadth of the problem. I learned, soon enough.
And while priests were removed from active ministry, individual lives and families could not be repaired. This was a dark time here, and with the revelations that rolled out over six years or more, we continued to be shocked and appalled, wondering how it could get any worse. For some, it had been a recurring nightmare for many years. Hopefully, reporting on some of what happened helped in some way. As a mother as well as a reporter, it was sometimes difficult to separate what and how I felt from the facts I had available or was able to use. Some of our clergy were as shocked as the rest of us and equally appalled.
Yet that is only one of the stories I covered in this diocese. Parish life sparks in many directions, making great differences in lives every day. People continually step outside themselves to help others, to stand with others in times of difficulty, when pain may surround them, except for the loving embrace offered in and by a parish, especially where young people are involved. Our youth inspire us, and if we are willing to listen, they can teach us about joy and pain, about bravery and anxiety all at the same time. We need to return the favor by encouraging them, celebrating them in their excitement and holding them in their pain. We owe them so much, and we need to step forward and perhaps out of our comfort zones to let them know we appreciate them.
No matter what our age, we need to be aware of God’s goodness in our lives every day. If we can open our eyes to see, we should say “thank you, God.” If we can walk out our doors any morning we choose, we should say “thank you, God.” If we can hear about the needs of others and act upon that information, we should say “thank you, God.” Because we can rely on our faith to guide us in what we do, what we say and how we act, we should say “thank you, God.” And I, again, say “thank you to God and to you.