Tuesday, 23rd January 2001: In which I turn down the call to Hope Valley, and realise I need to focus on my family

Today I visited Anthony Fisher in his office in the Theological Halls of the Catholic Church in Victoria Parade to take in my curriculum vitae. Anthony was meeting at 12:30pm with the Vicar General (and probably also the Archbishop) concerning my future and what they could do for me. Maddy came with me (and scoffed down five jam biscuits that Anthony placed on a plate before her). I took Maddy in to give Cathy some free space, but I think a part of me was showing her off. We talked about several topics, although I really had little to talk about since we are going to meet again on Friday. The two things Anthony wanted to be sure of were that I had turned down the Hope Valley appointment and was feeling okay about this, and that Cathy was also okay about it. We talked a little about the possibility perhaps of doing extra study (with a scholarship from the Archdiocese), perhaps in the John Paul II Institute of which Anthony is the Director. I said I was applying for secular jobs also, and hoped that this would not prejudice my final consideration for the priesthood. Anthony assured me that it would not; that many convert priests have to work in secular jobs for a while; and that if the vocation to the priesthood is still there even when I have a comfortable secular job, this would actually count in my favour.

When I got home, I called my district president. I told him that I had reached a decision not to take Hope Valley, and that therefore, I would need to consider the consequences of this in regard to leave of absence. I said that I was applying for other jobs (I didn’t mention that the Catholic Church is working towards helping me), and that we needed to talk ASAP. We have an appointment for next Wednesday morning. He handled this information very straightforwardly and “matter-of-factly” as if there was nothing particularly surprising in what I was saying. I think he must have expected this.

I was going to call JH (head chaplain at Hope Valley Homes) and the South Australian President this afternoon, but didn’t have the psychic energy for it. I am also dealing with a funeral of a Martin Luther Homes resident at the moment, which is complicated in a number of ways. I have the wedding on Saturday, and then services on Sunday. It doesn’t feel much like a holiday at all anymore. I will have to make up for it later. I am still concerned that Cathy is not using these days for what she intended, namely her annulment application. I have asked Anthony to enquire regarding Fr Tony Kerin’s advice about the order of annulment/profession/communion, which he will do. He said that the sticking point is likely to be that although the Tribunal could give an indication of the expected result in my case, Cathy’s application is not advanced enough for them to form an opinion on it.

Mum had rung earlier and left a message to say she wanted to talk with me and see how things were going. This evening I heard Cathy say to Maddy: “Do you want to talk to Grandma on the phone?” while I was out hanging out the washing, and so I came straight inside and listened in on the other line. Of course, I immediately began to tell Mum about my own situation and developments, and Cathy objected that she was talking and I had interrupted. So I let her and Mum speak until Mum asked how things were going for me. Then I launched into the full story. Then Maddy started crying and Cathy dealt with her while I kept speaking. A minute or so later, Cathy came in to say to me “Let me know when you're finished”. Mum and I spoke for a while longer—she says I am “making it hard for myself” by attempting to enter the Catholic church—and then I said to Cathy that Mum was ready to speak to her, and she said “Not now, I’ll call her back”. After Maddy was put to bed, Cathy said to me: “I called your mother, and I wanted to talk to her about the children, but you turned the whole thing around to yourself. It just shows how self-absorbed you are about this whole thing.” I pointed out that I thought Mum was calling me back from earlier, and that I was only answering Mum’s questions. But she is right. I am really far to self focused. As I was watering the garden (preparing for tomorrow’s 37 degree heat), I thought to myself that I really have to re-enforce my commitment to Cathy in some way.

As she was feeding Mia latter tonight, I sat down on the bed and said that God had his reasons for only allowing me to consider the Catholic question once I was securely married to her with our two children. Our marriage and our family therefore take priority over everything, even if it seems that I am “absent” from them so much. Cathy was disappointed about how our holiday at Cowes turned out, and how this week is turning out (what with the funeral, wedding and all). Another pastor [a cousin of my father's and the one who eventually accepted the call to Hope Valley in my place] had said to me just before I went on holidays that a call can really spoil things over a holiday. I said to Cathy that I was really feeling frustrated too, that my holiday had turned into a combination of work and attempting to carve out a future for us. I will have to do my best to organise for a few days off next week or the following week to make up.

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