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Grace upon grace: I remember

I remember St. Kwinten’s.

I close my eyes, and even though I’m thousands of miles away, I can still remember.

I remember the smell of incense, of cold, ancient stones, of candles burning, of bread and wine, of antiquated must, paint of Masters, of precious metal. I remember.

I remember the sound of feet shuffling in on those early mornings, some a little late, of babies cooing, noses blowing, mother’s shushing, languages blending, and choirs practicing. I remember.

I remember the faces and smiles, the colors of the world, the warm jackets, the rosy cheeks, hope in the eyes, and faith in the heart, the darkness of daily mass nights. I remember.

I remember handshakes and hugs, warm coffee and cookies, waffles and tea, and yes, even beer. I remember.

I remember the struggle, the struggle to believe, the community pressing on, the perseverance and the pain, the meetings…and more meetings and more meetings, the misunderstandings, and the forgiveness and the charity. I remember.

I remember the liturgy, the lights, the music, the servers, the practices, the gospel processions, the incense, again with the incense, the acoustics, the voices, the schola, and the chants. I remember.

I remember baptisms, pontifical masses, adult initiation, carved confessionals and pulpits, eucharistic processions and expositions and kneeling, candles of prayer, Martin lanterns, and divine mercy. I remember.

I remember Jesus, present on the altar, present in each other, in friends, present in his word, present in our hopes and dreams and fears. I remember.

I remember St. Kwinten’s.

I had the privilege to serve as priest for the community at St. Kwinten’s from 2014 until 2017. Living in, and studying at, Leuven, would not have been the same graced time for me without the presence of the St. Kwinten community. When I think of the some of the most profound liturgical experiences I have had as a priest, I think of Christmas or Easter at St. Kwinten’s. When I think of Catholic Christians willing to sacrifice for, and take responsibility of, their faith, I think of the people at St. Kwinten’s. I could not have written a dissertation on theology without being part of this embodied theological expression of faith. The friendships I gained from being part of this community continue to sustain me today. I am eternally grateful for those who invited me to take part in this community. I am honored to have been able to serve as their priest.

 Fr. R. Aaron Wessman, Glenmary Home Missioners

United States of America