I am dedicating this final day of my internship to Kate. I do not know her last name or even if she attends Old St Pat’s regularly, but I will never forget the day I met her.
Fr. Tom Hurley invited me to give a reflection at the 5:30 p.m. Liturgy on Wednesday, December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I was feeling very nervous, and not only because my preaching instructor and my New Testament professor were both in the pews. This would be one test of how Old St. Pat’s was going to respond to me as the ministry intern.
Oftentimes, Catholic parishes are accustomed to having seminarians, deacons and newly ordained priests accompany them for a year. I do not fit into those categories, though. As I stood at the threshold of this new experience, all I could do was wonder: how will this go? Praying for the courageous spirit of Mary, I preached the Gospel. And then I waited. I stood by the baptismal font after Mass to greet the congregation, unsure of how they would react to me. It was then I met Kate. She approached me with tears in her eyes, and said, “My name is Kate, and I have been waiting 28 and a half-years for this.” We hugged, and then she left. I have not seen her since that night, but the memory of our brief encounter has remained with me throughout my internship.
So far, this reflection may look like a “Missed Connections” entry from Craigslist or the Chicago Reader. (If you are reading this, Kate, I hope we will cross paths again soon.) The truth is I continue to encounter her spirit in every corner of Old St. Pat’s. This congregation is full of people such as Kate who, against the odds, have hopes and dreams for transformation. Like them, I dare to hope and believe our Church and world will eventually move beyond the tired dichotomies we live with — aided by the Spirit, or the “Advocate” as today’s Gospel calls her.
I can say, without exaggeration or reservation, I have loved my time at Old St. Pat’s. From Advent to Easter Vigil, from preaching to planning meetings, from the Gay & Lesbian Outreach Program to Foundations Youth Ministry, this has been a year of incalculable learning and growing for me. I hope my relationship with you extends well into the future. There is some incredible Kingdom-building going on here, and I do not want to miss what the Holy Spirit has in store.
Krista Kutz, a Master of Divinity candidate at the University of Chicago, has served Old St. Pat’s as a ministry intern throughout the year.