As I was fishing some Corn Pops out of our baptismal font the other day, one of our parishioners turned to me and said: “Fr. Brian, your life has gotten weird.” As I thought about that statement for a minute, I realized my only response was: “yes, yes it has.” In the short time I have been an ordained minister I have broken into the home of one of my parishioners (she was injured and could not get to the door), been schooled in the fine art of “squatching” (that would be sasquatch hunting), attended the wedding of the letters Q and U (a kindergarten thing), and I may be the only 28 year old male who can name the members of One Direction (they’re all the rage among our 7th grade girls). This is just the tip of the iceberg.
There is certainly no doubt that indeed, ministry has made my life weird. There are numerous times each week when I think to myself: “you couldn’t even make this up.” So much of ministry involves being flexible enough to work with the unexpected and unusual. At the very least one can say that ministry is rarely boring, but the “weird” moments of ministry are far more beneficial than simple entertainment value. Life, whether we are in ministry or not, always calls us to stretch ourselves beyond our routine and outside of our comfort zones. One way to respond to the unusual moments in our life is to do our best to avoid them, to stick to our routine and to stay clear of the unusual. When we take that approach we close ourselves off to so many opportunities. A parishioner would still be in trouble, our kindergarteners would not have a creative way to remember that “u” always follows after “q,” and I would have missed some wonderful experiences with our parish youth.
Fr. Brian Ching, C.S.C., is associate pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in South Bend, Ind. He is originally from Flushing, N.Y., and is a graduate of Holy Cross High School. He entered seminary while a student at the University of Notre Dame. He professed Final Vows in 2012 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2013. Learn more about Holy Cross parish ministry here.