I work at CHS three days a week (including Sundays), and my job description is pretty varied. I:
Examples of this last category have so far included pulling pork for church meals and moving furniture in the Sunday school rooms. I am reminded of the words of our program director, who said every good seminary education should include a course on boiler maintenance.
The goal of this job is to get a feel for parish life for discernment purposes. I’m basically job-shadowing the priest at a suburban church with average Sunday attendance of about 100, many of whom are retired military from nearby Offutt Air Force Base (and when I say nearby, I mean I can hear Reveille and Taps through my office window). With the exception of the large retired military population, the church in many ways reflects most parishes I’ve been a part of in the past: conservative, small, and older. As such, the challenges and experiences aren’t quite what I was expecting nor what the other interns face, but they are still welcome avenues for growth. For example, I'm not a big fan of the main worship space and the music program is fairly limited, but that reminds that God is everywhere and helps me to learn that in ministry, worship is no longer about being fed but about feeding.
I will say this: the people at CHS are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. They manage to be both no-nonsense (as the program director says, “There’s no fooling around when you’ve got to get the crops in on time!) and welcoming at the same time. I will walk away in May with fond memories of these people and a positive impression of the Midwest because of them. Even better, working with Father Tom is one of the two highlights of my time here (along with my job at Repower). He’s a retired Air Force Lt. Col. himself, but is also very engaging and a good mentor. He is approaching me and this program with an open and eager mind but also with a sense of purpose. A relatively new priest, his seminary experience is still fresh in his mind, but after nearly three decades in the military, he is well grounded in life’s wisdom. Like I said, he’s a very good mentor and I’m lucky to be here.
I miss New Hampshire, I miss Idaho, and I miss being constantly surrounded by politics and policy, but this is nonetheless a good place for me to be right now. Next year I will almost assuredly be back in DC or New England but with a better understanding of myself and of the world around me.