The Last Shall Be First

Well, here it is, folks, the last regular Friday blog post until next fall. We have been saying goodbye and celebrating “last hurrahs” with friends all week – in fact, we’ve been doing little else! Everyone has asked, “Did the year go quickly?” I think, as often happens, the days sometimes went slowly, but the weeks went quickly. This week, filled with the schools’ end-of-year services and barbecues, a birthday party for one of our favorite “tea ladies,” a day out with our friend Fr. John-Paul, dinner with Ruairi and Therese, and whatever else will pop up today, has come to Friday all too quickly.

As we have said goodbye to the many people who welcomed us into their parish, schools, and families, I’ve found myself in a different situation from Jess, Kurt, and Dan. They are saying goodbye until their next visit, which might be a long time from now. I am only saying goodbye until late August. It is a blessing to be able to say, “See you soon!” to my new friends here. At the same time, it is strange not to be in the same position as the other three, when we have lived and worked so closely together for the last 10 months. It gives me a different perspective on all these goodbyes.

For example, when we attended ordinations and the new priests’ first Masses this week, I was not only admiring what beautiful ceremonies they were, but also wondering if I would be working closely with either of the new priests next year. (We will learn soon the name of our new curate, who will replace Fr. Sean when he heads back to the Gambia!) When we attended Scoil Mhuire’s end-of-the-year service, I was admiring the school community, but also trying to learn the teachers’ names so that I might remember when I start working with them next year. In a way, many of Teach Bhríde 3’s “lasts” have been Teach Bhríde 4’s “firsts.” That is just as it has always been: we build on the foundations laid by the volunteers before us. So, goodbye for now. See you in August!