So here's a little quandary. We are ever so slightly considering going back to our old church! I KNOW! I KNOOOOOW.
For new people (although I can't think anyone here is new), three years I started anxiously processing leaving our old church and a year after that we actually DID leave and started attending our current church. WHY, you are asking, ARE YOU THINKING OF GOING BACK?!?!?!?!?! WHAT IS THIS MADNESS????? CATHOLICS DON'T DOOOOO THISSSSSS!
(They totally do. They just usually go to another Catholic church instead of starting their OWN church. Details.)
Okay, so the reason is that our old church has a new new priest (he was just assigned there in early July) and we really really like him. There were rumors that he might be assigned to Old Church and a friend who may or may not be invested in having us return kept me posted and rumor turned to fact. And then this past Sunday we went to Mass at Old Church and yep, New Priest is pretty awesome, just as we remembered.
New Priest was never a pastor of ours, he was just... around a lot. He would occasionally be the Substitute Priest, but he truly established his awesome with me when he led a full day seminar I had to go to and it was so great. He's closer to my age than my parents' age, he's tremendously personable, he's got a sense of humor, and he's a dynamic speaker. The sort of priest you would look forward to listening to each week. That's... that's PRETTY SPECIAL.
I feel okay saying that since our old priest at the old church, to whom both Phillip and I formed a deep attachment (he married us! he baptized all our babies! we were so involved there and he taught us so much!) was (and he would say this himself) NOT the most personable person. As we got to know him we saw that his [amazing] gifts lay elsewhere - this is just to say that we haven't specifically sought out Popular Priests or church hopped in search of one.
THAT SAID. Phillip has a hard time feeling connected at Mass at New Church, even though we've now been there two years. I personally think this has a lot to do with the fact that because I haven't made connections there (and mostly on purpose - I needed a Church Break), HE hasn't made connections. I think he is realizing how much he liked knowing other people in the pews. So there's that piece. There's also the piece where he doesn't connect with any of the priests at New Church (there are two, used to be three.) We LIKE all the priests, but Phillip never feels like their homilies have any meaning or application to his daily life. Maybe they are too abstract, maybe too vague, I'm not sure. And while we understand that this is not a REQUIREMENT for Mass attendance, I don't think you can argue that it wouldn't be NICE, right? (I almost never feel connected during actual Mass, so I'm used to it! Also: KIDS! How can you connect to anything with a three-year-old sitting next to you?!)
But we didn't switch churches because of priests, we switched because Old Church has a lot less programming and NO CATECHISM for parish children. They DO have a parish school, but my kids aren't IN that school. New Church, on the other hand, has a great Sunday School program and lots of other stuff going on as well, for both children and adults. If we were to go back to Old Church, the kids would go to the Children's Liturgy of the Word during Mass, but not attend any other religious formation. Molly, because she'll be preparing for First Communion, would be in a special First Communion class.
So. Can I... go to both?
There is actually a relationship between both of these churches. And because they are fairly close to each other, we often see Old Church folks at New Church. Who knows if they like the times that day or what. I really do think it wouldn't be an issue for our kids to attend Sunday School at New Church and for Phillip and me to continue volunteering with marriage prep (and me going to the women's bible study DID I EVEN TELL YOU I'M THINKING ABOUT THAT?), but usually go to Mass at Old Church. I'm not entirely sure how we would do our donating... ???
I don't like how it LOOKS. I KNOW IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK, but have you met me? So there's that. I'm also not a half-asser and going to half one church and half another feels wrong and commitment-lacking and Disapproval Face. But I have my old friends at Old Church and feel ready to make new friends at New Church! (See: women's bible study. They have childcare. And yes I feel ready to meet people for real, you don't actually think I'm excited about BIBLE STUDY ack.)
Phillip and I have talked about this for maybe 30 seconds tops and here I am whinging about it on my blog. TYPICAL. And look at me acting like this is HIS idea. (ha)
We just REALLY like New Priest. We could have, like, a A PRIEST FRIEND. WHOA.
And... I won't lie, it was so nice to go back. Lots of new faces, but plenty of old. People who were so happy to see us. Even just walking in and picking a pew - it made me realize that I still feel New and Uncertain at New Church. Like we might be taking someone else's place in the pew! (You know how you like to have a certain territory, right?) Like everyone might be looking at us and wondering who the new family is. Not really knowing where things ARE. Going back to Old Church was like never having left. Kinda weird.
I have to help clean up dinner. That's probably better for my marriage than making up a problem for us to have on the internet.