Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
If January is the month of “new beginnings,” then I would offer that September is the month of “transitions.” There are many parents saying goodbye to their sons and daughters who are making their way to colleges across the country. Some couples will be empty nesters for the first time. Conversations between husbands and wives will take on new meanings, as they focus more on their own relationship and less on the schedules or activities of their children.
This is also a time when parents will accompany their children for the first time to elementary school. It’s interesting to watch both the parents’ and the children’s reactions. Some little ones will cry, shouting that they don’t want to leave mommy, tears streaming down their little faces. Other children can’t wait to leave mom or dad, as they run out of the car or break away from their parents’ grasp to assume their position in this new moment of their nascent life. Then, of course, there are the parents, whose faces are filled with anticipation and some tears as they let go of their children, like the mother bird gently urging her offspring into the air, knowing they need to fly in order to survive in this world. I remember my first day of morning kindergarten with Sister Alipia as my teacher. I finally made it to school, which consisted of a little learning, games, cookies and a nap. It was a great formula for living.
In the beginning of my fourth year in high school seminary, a group of my classmates decided to do a Labor Day camp out at the Indiana Dunes. The Dunes were a poor man’s resort. You could have a great weekend just with a tent, sleeping bag and a package of hotdogs. It was September, and in a few days, as seniors, we would be in full academic mode. There was much to reflect upon. Would we be going on to college seminary? In the future, opportunities to gather together would be fewer and farther between with the demands of work and college choices. But for now, with transition before us, we enjoyed and cherished the moments of friendship that were afforded to us as a blessing, for they may not be there tomorrow.
Every September brings to mind the Dunes, and the reminder to enjoy and cherish the moments of friendship whenever and wherever they occur. It has helped me to keep my perspective on the blessings afforded me by God in every moment of my life, and my responsibility to return and share those blessings.
There is a poem by an anonymous author that reminds me of those moments: “Through this toilsome world, alas! Once and only once I pass. If a kindness I may show, if a good deed I may do, to a suffering fellow man. Let me do it while I can, no delay, for it is plain I shall not pass this way again.”
Now, starting our period of September transition, may we find our Lord’s presence in the moments of encounter. Let us cherish them as we LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the September 4, 2018 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.