Lights . . . Camera . . . Action

It was the week before our Confirmation celebration on Pentecost Sunday. The liturgy was thoughtfully prepared, the confirmands and liturgists were well-rehearsed, and Sue, host of the reception, had planned every detail - from the DJ providing the music to a floor plan for the Great Hall. Everything and everybody were ready to go . . . until Sue's 94-year old mother suddenly was rushed to the hospital, seriously ill. With just a few days left before the event, I put a call into Jane, explained the situation, and without hesitation, she took over for Sue. The event went off without a hitch - Megan, who had planned the party with her mom, worked with Jane - and unexpected volunteers gravitated to Jane's side that morning: Tim, Barbara, Annie, Lynn. They weren't asked to help, they just knew help was needed.

Two weeks before the parish picnic, an e-mail went out to the "men of the parish," asking for their help with set up, grilling, and clean up for this annual family event. Twenty-five guys volunteered - some came early in the morning while the grass was still wet with dew, while others stayed late, leaving the parish grounds looking like we had never been there. A schedule was put together for the chefs so no one had to slave over a hot grill for too long. But when I heard music coming from the backyard and  noticed there were more men in the back than there were in the front, I realized they weren't there just for the cooking - they were enjoying the fellowship time together.

This year we had two youth mission trips that took busy parent chaperones away from their families, and overlapped two important family holidays - Mothers' Day and Fathers' Day. But our chaperones didn't hesitate to commit to the trips and to our children. Janet, Andy and Charlie joined us on the first-ever junior high Mission Chicago trip; Ann and Steve led our second mission trip to Nicaragua.  Neither trip could have or would have been successful without their presence.

During Lent, we had decided to have a lay-led Adult Forum program. Focusing on the hospitality theme, movies, discussion topics and prayers were selected, but we needed to find the right people to present the program in an interesting and meaningful way. Although Hal, Eric, Charlie, Barbara and Nancy were given materials with which to work, they had to make each presentation their own, which took time and preparation - especially since a few rather obscure movies were chosen. Those forums were some of the best of the year.

Just a few weeks ago, I suggested to the staff that we conclude our outdoor Sunday summer liturgies with a bang. A Bob Dylan tribute band has been hired to play at a special liturgy on August 28th at 10am, which will be followed by our annual Ice Cream Social. Father Hardman, who is already busy with his adult ed programs and regular duties, took time to review Bob Dylan songs, the Sunday readings, and alternative prayers, to develop an appropriate theme for the liturgy. Like the U2charist, the Motown and Imagine Masses, this promises to be a modern, lively, and interactive liturgy - a perfect ending to our summer, and an inviting beginning to our new program year.

I was recently asked to oversee a 6th/7th grade youth program. As we did with AIM and WHAM, I felt it is important to give this new youth group their own space. Most rooms in our building are already used on Sunday mornings, so it was time to get creative.  I went to Jeff, our Operations Manager, and suggested we redo a space that is currently used as an indoor playground for ATB&B on weekdays. Jeff quickly got on top of it, contacting the appropriate contractors, researching new furniture, and helping with decorating options.  The room will be ready come September. 

This has been a sneak preview into how I've spent my last few months. I've been accused by some of being a "control freak" - and rightly so since it is my job to be in control.  However, I prefer this analogy: I am the the producer of a movie (albiet a low budget, independent film that very few ever see) with an incredibly talented group of directors and actors who are willing to donate their time and talent to the project.  I work closely with the director to be sure the actors fit the roles; the score, scenery, and script are well-done; and the movie is finished on time and within budget. 

Not every event has been a box office hit . . . but the directors and actors are certainly worthy of an Oscar.