I had a chance to return to Bermuda recently, and I took it. Bishop Wes was scheduled for an off-island ordination ceremony in Ontario and need a sub for a week. I still can celebrate public Masses, though I’m wobbly. As long as I can maneuver in a sanctuary by holding on to chairs, kneelers and altars, I’m fine.
Bermuda is a lovely nation on a small archipelago about 800 mikes South-East of new York. (My best guess.) I’d visited there Last December when the island nation was in it’s winter rest from it’s usually balmy temps but when I arrived this time, the humid heat hit me as soon as we got off the plane. “We” included this time, Father Richard Grek who joined me so that he could get some vacation in this summer before his stints begin as locum tenens for vacationing priests in the Mid-West.
The Bermudians are a courteous and hospitable people so once again I soaked up not only the sun, but their sunny dispositions. After morning Mass each day at St. Theresa’s cathedral, Father Rich and I joined the regular coffee klatch in the parish hall. Re-connecting with Kathy and Don Johanne, Annie and Malcomb, Maria, Bernice and all the rest was a great way to begin each day. Each of these parishioners has a unique story concerning their Catholic journey. It enriches my faith to hear again of their experiences as Catholics.
Perhaps, Don and Kathy have the most compelling story. For thirty-five years Kathy did not receive Holy Communion because of her irregular marriage situation. Bishop Kurtz, whom Bishop Wes succeeded, had helped them through an annulment process which allowed them to marry in the Church. Don, a convert and Kathy –the word “enthusiastic” was created for her– are now happily able to take part and receive Holy Communion.
In my journey as a Catholic priest, Our Lord has blessed me with great experiences of great people. And in that regard, the Catholic community in Bermuda holds a special place in my heart.