My SoDak Catholicism

I spent the last week in South Dakota with my family–mom, dad, two sisters, and new husband. I water-skied on Lake Kampeska more than I can ever remember and savored several sunny days, and even sun-burned my pale Alaska skin. And, of course, we went to Mass at my home parish. While the priest has changed several times since I graduated from high school, the parishioners have not shifted too dramatically. Maybe it’s a bit sacrilege, but I love watching people I grew up with go through the communion line. It’s like watching a real-live yearbook. I see who has had kids, who is married. Who else is home for a visit. And I get to watch the parents of my friends carry grandkids or hold each other’s hands because an empty nest has rekindled a newlywed sensibility. It feels like I think communion is supposed to–reconnecting with my community and the people who shaped my Catholicism.

After Mass, we crowded awkwardly around a few pews, visiting. I saw my 5th grade Catholic school teacher, my friend who recently left the monastery, the parents of a friend who has three kids. We stay in touch like this–through our time at Mass, through this sacramental coming together.

Last year, I was married in this parish. When the priest was doing the paperwork, he was sort of amazed to see that I have received all my Sacraments in this parish–from Baptism and First Reconciliation right on through to Marriage. We buried my grandparents here and I grew up here. It really is how I am Catholic. And its funny; when I’m away, I sort of forget about this way of being Catholic that is just part of the water, the air…as natural to me as water-skiing on Lake Kampeska.


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