On Saturday, I walked into St. Patrick in Nashua, the first real steps on the experience that has consumed me for the better part of the last five years. Almost immediately, I put myself to work.
Father Michael Kerper, pastor at the city’s oldest Catholic parish, was at the rear of the church, and he quickly recognized the out-of-place face who was dressed a little more formally than most of the regular Mass goers at the Saturday vigil. It was a hot day in Southern New Hampshire, and most of the parishioners were dressed for that rare occasion.
Following our brief introduction, I asked Father if I could give him a hand removing the ropes that had been used to cordon off those pews that were inoperable in a socially distanced world. They wouldn’t be needed any longer, as the Diocese of Manchester joined so many other in lifting the restrictions that had been governing our faith lives for the last 14 months.
I like to think this act was symbolic, that I was launching my journey just as Catholic Churches around the country began opening their doors and their pews to the full celebration of Mass. I also prefer to think it was not at all emblematic when I got inadvertently locked out of the building following the conclusion of Mass.
I guess time will tell. Here are some photos from my visit.
St. Patrick sits across from the courthouse in downtown Nashua, which is no longer the heavily populated section of the city.
The downtown church is a gorgeous and well-preserved place of worship.