“You do know the young adult group has a blog,” my friend told me.
It was an 85-degree evening in August 2010. We sat in front of a gas station in Chicago’s Wicker Park that had become a restaurant, which is the sort of thing that happens in Wicker Park. We were eating artisan tacos and drinking Goose Island, which is the sort of thing you do in Wicker Park.
A month before, I’d taken a trip to Boston. There, I’d audited a graduate course taught by liberation theology pioneer Gustavo Gutierrez. I was at a point in my life when I was stuck. Upon returning home, I felt I’d been given a huge shove to do something with my life right now, and to do it for God’s justice.
By the end of July, I had connected with Call To Action. I started volunteering there. I proceeded to announce it on Facebook. That’s where my friend saw it. She messaged that we should talk.
She had once worked for CTA. Now she was telling me about their young adult ministry, CTA 20/30. Which, she said, had a blog.
“You need to get a column on that blog,” she emphasized, apropos of nothing. We weren’t talking about writing, or my being a writer, at all. Her instruction came from thin air.
So I started emailing the blog editors. Back then, they were Kate Ward and Lacey Louwagie. They told me they’d like a sample piece.
I went to my Blogger account. I found a post I’d written about apparent anti-Semitism in Palm Sunday scripture readings. I cut it down to 500 words and sent it along.
Shortly afterward, I was in. I’ve been at it since.
I sat alongside my friend from taco night in Wicker Park. She had very much liked the things I was writing over the past couple of months. She had told me so.
Suddenly, during the presentation, she leaned over. Again apropos of nothing, she asked me in a mysterious, momentous whisper:
“So, have you found your vocation?”
I had not found my entire vocation. But I had, indeed, found much of it.
With that encouragement, and with the encouragement of other important folks as well, I’ve tried to live up to that portion of my call. Namely, to use my writing to stand with people who have things done to them in the name of God. I’ve tried to stand here, in this place, with you.
I’ve had some particular favorites, as any writer does. I’ve written about the clunkiness of the current Roman missal (in fact, I’ve written about it twice), the church’s role in the Wikileaks scandal, the election of Pope Francis, an unfortunate exorcism service in Illinois, the Gothic horrors of “Grandma’s Bread,” how to compare the Vatican to the Chicago Democratic machine, my mother’s memories of going to confession, why I stay Catholic, the waning hours of Cardinal George’s term of office, the experience of being taught theology (again in Boston) by near-martyr Jon Sobrino, why parishes are good, and the Resurrection. Young Adult Catholics also snagged me an online newspaper column, as well as the opportunity to contribute to one book, and then another.
This, then, is my 105th post at Young Adult Catholics. It is also my last.
I’ve held the mic for a long time, more than four and a half years. If you hold the mic too long, it becomes a throne. If the church justice movement stands for nothing else, it stands for the principle that turnabout, of all kinds, is fair play.
I believe the moment has come for some turnabout. The moment has also come for me to pursue other writing outlets.
I thank you for accompanying me on the journey. Because that’s what it’s been. For me, anyway.
I am indebted to those folks who, upon reading my stuff here, have given me opportunities to be published elsewhere. Most especially, I am grateful for those of you whom I have personally met and befriended.
I am not disappearing. My homepage will continue to feature my blogging, occasional photography, and links to my work at other venues.
I can think of no better last words than ancient liturgical ones. Ite, missa est. Go, the Mass is ended. Go, for you are sent.