This is the last of my regular monthly columns as The Carillon adopts a new format and focus. While I never expected to have the privilege of writing this column on an on-going basis, I have certainly become used to the regularity of the project, preparing reflections on the story of St. Mary’s University, and on the story of my own faith in our times, as the subject revealed itself to me month after month. As a lay person, I have made a sincere effort to capture the joy of faith in every day experiences – from seeing and noting funny, misprinted church bulletin announcements, and charity event listings, to sharing misremembered prayers, and the imperfect study of our saints. Through it all I have been blessed with a generous audience, and have been surprised, not just at the wide reach of The Carillon itself, but also at the opportunities, both in and out of church, for me to meet with readers of this humble column.
Recently someone thanked me for writing Small Things: Essays in Faith and Hope, the collection published by Novalis that brought together the first three years of the columns. In truth, I’m the one who owes a note of thanks to the readers for their support, ideas, and generosity of spirit. I have never received criticism from the community for my ordinary effort to put these columns together. On the contrary I have been blessed with kind words and support. So too, has St. Mary’s University, the subject of so many of my columns. For this I thank all of you.
It does seem fitting to be writing this at the close of the year and in preparation for Christmas. There is a sense of reckoning that comes with the end of one year and the preparation for the next, and also a sense of stocktaking. It is a time when we gather in thanks for the gifts the Lord has given us, most importantly the miracle of his Son’s birth. It is a time when families gather to celebrate, to pray and to plan for the year ahead. And it is also a chance to say goodbye.
I want to use this opportunity to thank two special women who played a pivotal role in the shaping of these columns: Monique Achtman, a most generous editor and comrade-in-arms, always quick to offer advice and support; and my friend Helen Kominek, the first person to read each column and provide insight into their improvement, including, at times, a clear suggestion that I scrap my first draft and start again! To both Monique and Helen I offer my profound thanks. And to all of The Carillon’s vast audience: thank you for reading.
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Merry Christmas and God bless,
From all of us at St. Mary’s University