Another One Bites the Dust

As I was doing some research for our Succession Committee, a familiar name kept popping up: The Rev. Canon Michael Hunn, Canon to the Ordinary, Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.

Fr. Hunn and I began working at Holy Comforter the same year; I started in January 2001 and he was hired as Senior Associate Rector in March 2001. I remember interviewing him. He was young and nervous - and I was much older and even more nervous. Having only been working at this parish for two months, I had no idea what I was even supposed to ask him. During that first year, we learned the ropes and sort of grew up - and into our positions - together. I'm here because he was here; he gave me the confidence to do the job for which I was hired. The day he left is still vivid in my mind. Fr. Myers took the staff out for a farewell luncheon at an Italian restaurant in Northfield. Fr. Hunn was typically late and we started to worry that he forgot. He finally arrived and we ate, we toasted, we gave him gifts and we said our good-byes. As we left, he and I stood in the parking lot, his arms around me, and I sobbed and didn't want to let him go. But he promised we'd stay in touch. That was in April 2004 and it was the first of many sad good-byes. As the years passed, we neglected to keep in contact. Every once in a while though, one of us will call or email the other and we chat like we just saw each other yesterday - much like old friends do.

Here we are saying good-bye again, to the seventh associate/curate since I've been here. When Pastor Ann Dieterle first visited Holy Comforter, she experienced the harsh reality of a Chicago winter, much different than the weather she was used to, having grown up in Florida. My interview with Ann was the complete opposite of that which I had with Fr. Hunn. Much more confident in myself and my position, I was able to tell her of my experiences and share information - work hard, get involved, be available, but most importantly get to know the parishioners. They are the heart and the soul of this parish. While Fr. Hunn convinced me I was capable of doing my job, the people are what keep me coming back every day.

Although Ann is young enough to be my daughter, I made a point of not mothering her. There might have been a few suggestions that I thought would be helpful - like perhaps it would be a good idea to buy a winter coat. But I looked forward to getting to know her as a colleague and a friend, and she proved to be good at both. She is a die-hard baseball fan, and though she tried to be a Cubs fan, her heart belongs to the Tampa Bay Rays. She likes red wine, chocolate, and shopping at Ann Taylor. And she is an excellent priest who preaches and teaches with confidence and conviction. We would often see a pair of blue jeans peeking out beneath those shiny vestments, but that never detracted from the importance she placed on the liturgy. During her recent search process, she interviewed for a chaplain position at an Episcopal School. Although she loved the school, the people and the location, she said she would miss Sunday mornings. She has been involved in many successes at Holy Comforter, but will be most remembered for the U2charist - something that was so out-of-the-box for this parish but certainly proved to be one of the most memorable liturgies ever.

So now it's another sad good-bye. Ann, I wish you happiness, peace, and success as you move on. And even though we'll lose touch as the years go by, I know that when we do catch up, it will be like you never left. I will miss you, my friend.

And another one's gone . . . another one bites the dust. (lyrics by Queen, 1980)