As I get older, I find that I am getting a bit more needy and don't like a lot of change in my rectory life. I should restate that. Changes in the my rectory life cause me anxiety and dread, especially if I enjoy those who live with me. The anxiety is that the new person might not be like the one who left, although sometimes they are better, the same or different.
Since the middle of May I have experienced change after change in my rectory. Fr. Drew Larkin, my very first parochial Vicar who arrived in July of 2018 left for canon law studies at Catholic University. I dreaded his leaving not only because I enjoyed living with him but because he was a very good parochial vicar although part time. I knew last summer when he was assigned that he would only be with me for about 10 months.
I had no idea who would be assigned as a new parochial vicar not even into June. But when I heard, I was told it wouldn't be until August that he would arrive, a Nigerian priest newly ordained for our diocese who studied in south Florida. Anxiety galore in this transition for me too as I had never really spoken to him as a seminarian other than to say hello.
Then I had two seminarians for a good part of the summer, a convert of mine from Macon, Deacon Nate Swann. He left the middle of July for Spanish studies.
Then I had Seminarian Will Cook, a former Marine Captain, current Navy Reserve Officer studying for our diocese and eventually allowed to do active duty Navy Chaplaincy. I have grown to admire, respect and enjoy him in the parish and in the rectory. His military background brings me back to my days growing up in an Army family as my dad was career army. Will is our type of people! His departure has caused me anxiety because I loved living with him and found a military security with him there. He has a great heart too and a reassuring personality.
I think too, that having been an army family when I was a child, I lost many very good friends to army moves, my first in East Point, Georgia when my best friend, we were both five years old, moved away. I didn't understand that when I said good bye to him I'd never see him again. My mother wondered why I wasn't sad as we waved goodbye to them. She said you won't see him again and well, that's when I realized it was over and my mom saw me cry. Best friends throughout elementary school moved away and yes, I never saw them again.
So how is an aging priest to cope with the revolving door that is rectory life especially when he returns to his childhood issues?