At the beginning of this week, I took a great deal of solace knowing that I would reach 6:00 on Sunday night, although I had no idea what was going to happen between Monday and Sunday.
On Monday, I concluded the Priest's Council meeting that began a week ago. We talked about the issues that are affecting the diocese and tried to offer some solutions. I came home that evening to a meeting with a couple, something that I never do on my day off if I can avoid it. I woke early on Tuesday for a meeting in Britt with the ministerial association. We talk about a book one of the minister's has recommended. I went back and worked in my office for most of the day on Tuesday but then had the first of my Immaculate Conception masses. On Wednesday, I drove to Garner for some business but I had a meeting with a couple of people regarding rental assistance so I had to hurry back. And then ended the day with two masses for the Immaculate Conception, one in Forest City and one in Lake Mills. On Thursday, I went to a funeral for a long-time church worker in Buffalo Center. It took a long time to actually get to the cemetery for the burial so I headed straight to Garner for a meeting with my Associate and supper. I finished off that day with Pastoral Council in Forest City. The next day, I had to be in Cedar Falls by 9:00 for a leadership training class I've been taking for the last year and a half. We finished at 3:00 and then I headed back to Forest City. I posted a comment in Facebook that I was relieved to finally have a significant amount of time to sit and relax. The only thing that concerned me was that the priests were at my leadership training camp were saying that this weekend's snow was going to be bad.
Now, before I get into the heart of the weekend, let me preface things a little. This weekend, we were supposed to have a talk by a religious sister about the Retirement Fund for Religious. This happens once a year in all the parishes in the diocese. However, when I got home on Friday, I called her and told her not to come. I was afraid she'd get here and we'd have to cancel masses on Saturday night. Also, Deacon Dennis Popowski was supposed to preach in the masses I celebrated. Notice the word supposed in the last sentence....
I awoke on Saturday morning, ready to face the day. It had rained since about midnight the night before, which caused some concern for me. As I walked toward the church, I started noticing the first hints of snow amidst the rain. After morning confessions were over in Forest City, I called my Associate and we both agreed that we need to cancel the masses for Saturday night. The rain had frozen and was being covered by snow, making for hazardous conditions. I figured that conditions would improve by morning so I did nothing with regard to Sunday. However, at 9:00 that night, I heard that the Iowa State Patrol was requesting no unnecessary travel through mid morning on Sunday. I called my Associate Pastor and he agreed that we should cancel. So I called the media, who must have been overwhelmed at that point as none of my calls and emails were ever published, and called some of the parishioners. It really was a blessing as both my Associate Pastor and I were still trapped in our houses as of 8:30 the next morning. The plows would clear our parking lots and then the wind would blow it back in. We each got to celebrate one mass, he in Garner and I, without a deacon preaching, in Forest City. We even had to cancel the communal reconciliations we had scheduled for this afternoon because the wind continues pushing the cleared snow back out on the roads. And I've spent more time in the rectory in the Forest City Rectory than I have since I was assigned here. It's now 6:00 on Sunday and I've cancelled all but four of the original fourteen liturgies I was supposed to do this weekend.
In the future, I hope I can make my decision by noon on Saturday and it's better to be safe than stuck in a ditch somewhere between here and Lake Mills. Although, hopefully this will be the last time we'll get a snow storm on Saturday and Sunday. Wouldn't that be great?