Repost from May 2012 (because I have been thinking of Iowa a lot recently)
As we prepare to depart the holy soils of Iowa, I thought I would share a few scattered thoughts on the impact of Iowa grace on my life, and that of my family. The lists are by no means complete, and no offence intended by omissions!
What will I miss most? Friends: We made some fast and lifelong friends, extraordinary people who have left a very deep mark on our lives. Colleagues: The Catholic Church in Iowa has some exceptional people in her ministerial employ, clergy, religious and laity. Working with these people has definitively impacted my vision of faith and life. Too many people to name. St. Joseph Educational Center: I have loved working for the Center, and, even more, with my astounding SJEC co-workers: Rachel Egan, a quiet light of Christ’s joy; Faye Akers, a peaceful spirit with passion, vision and astounding organizational skills; Dr. Jerry Deegan, a personal hero, mentor and man of noble character. The hidden saints: As with anywhere else I’ve been in my life, there are folks I consider to be crazy-holy, and for me those are most often really low-key people who “do the truth in love” without attention-seeking or fanfare. Serious social gospel: The faith communities of SW Iowa are especially committed to doing the works of justice and mercy. Much of that’s the legacy of Bishop Dingman, vividly embodied by Sister Pat Scherer. Moderate sized city with a small town feel: I love the just-urban-enough feel of Des Moines, and that nearly everyone here is from Iowa so almost everybody knows almost everybody. Weather: I love 4-seasons. NOLA, I hear, has 2 seasons: blazing and simmer.
What are some of my hopes for Iowa? Schools: I hope the awesome Catholic schools of SW Iowa will continue to inspire a desire for excellence in young people, and demonstrate that virtue is the soul of true excellence. I hope that outsiders peering into the halls, classrooms, offices and athletic fields of Catholic schools would remark, “So that’s the Catholic difference!” Parishes: I hope that clergy and laity alike will be filled with a fresh influx of the Spirit, a new infusion of the joy of the Gospel and a living-explicit-fruitful love for Jesus Christ that will cause observers, eyeing our edgy faith, to quote Acts 2:13: “They’ve had too much new wine!”
What was the brightest highlight of my four years here? Knowing, learning from and walking with Fr. Jim Polich to his death on 11/20/11. And in death, I must say, he’s proved himself to be even more a father to me and to my family than he was while still here in the flesh. I could tell you stories! And I’m not alone in that sentiment. A true intercessor, may I suggest to you.
We will miss you, O Iowa (I write with tears), and we are grateful to God for bringing us here to taste and see His goodness in you, His people.
Off now to the Big Easy…ora pro nobis…