Today I had the opportunity to "go home again" so to speak. I grew up (K-8) in St. James parish in Riverton, IL. This is the same parish that my mom grew up in, my parents were married in and that I received most of the sacraments. Unfortunately one week when I came home from scout camp I found out that the pastor had accosted my father in front of others in the communion line about where he was taking the hosts that he received to take communion to my home bound relatives. That coupled with a growing list of issues with the pastor and his assistant priest led to Dad moving us to another parish. Until recently those priests were still there and the parish had suffered a tremendous loss of congregants.
Recently though the two priests were removed from the parish after allegations of financial misdeeds surfaced and were apparently verified. Today was the first KC Father/Son Breakfast since then and the first time that my parents and I had gone back to St. James except for funerals. It was an interesting experience in a couple of ways. First looking around at the various people at Mass I think I knew more people there than I do at my current parish after 5 years. The second thing was that people recognized us and came up and talked to us after Mass. We felt welcomed. I think that even with all of the hurt that the poor parish has had to endure that they are a model of how a Parish COMMUNITY should be. May the people of St. James continue to heal and grow. Maybe someday I'll be back in the area close enough to call it home again.