May was tough but the beginning of June promises to be more trying and emotionally draining.
Being slammed at work is one thing, but having a full professional-social calendar is far worse. I am, by nature, an introvert and, by choice, a hermit. I'd rather chaperone 60 8th graders on a two day retreat than spend two hours at the end of year parish team dinner making small talk. June is the month for all of the end-of-year celebrations which I tend to consider worse than work, listed here in order from least onerous to most deadly: on June 9, the parish's afternoon reception for volunteers [command performance as one of the "hosts"], on June 4, the parish team end-of-year dinner [command performance as one of the members], and, on June 6, the archdiocesan Communion Breakfast [another command performance as one of the hundreds of honorees].
The last mentioned event is the positive worst. It is run by nuns and only those who have worked closely with nuns can know what this means. Nuns build community and affirm the members of said community. Normally, this is a good thing. But when the community is the catechetical leadership of damn near all the parishes of the NY Archdiocese plus the regional and diocesan staffs ... well, you're talking about a very large, diverse and unwieldy community. This community runs the gamut from urban sophisticates to "black dirt" onion farmers, from third generation white flight suburbanites to poverty stricken ghetto dwellers, with a few genuine hillbillies and native American Mohawks thrown in for good measure. You will find at least a dozen languages spoken by members of this group. Indeed, sometimes it seems as though the only things making us a community are a shared faith and some artificial boundary lines separating us from the Albany diocese to the north and west and the Brooklyn diocese to the south and east..
Anyway, the Mass that begins the day [and, yes, a Communion Breakfast takes nearly a full workday] is the best part. From there on, it is all downhill. The Mass is usually followed by a breakfast that has nothing to do with breakfast, or even brunch, foods. It is the considered opinion of myself and a few close friends in the ministry that the food served is whatever was left over from the previous weekend's weddings catered by the venue ... a rather cheesy catering hall in Westchester that owes its main claim to fame and its name to a marvelous Hudson River view. There is invariably a keynote speech, followed by recognition of 5 year, 10 year, 15 year, 20 year anniversaries of service; followed by recognition of 25 and 50 year jubilees of all the nuns in the audience celebrating those landmarks; followed by farewells to all those retiring from the ministry complete with curriculum vita noting every detail of their accomplishments in ministry. And then come the awards for extraordinary service. A Communion Breakfast that ends by 2:00pm is a rarity. And then there is the hour long commute back to the office on the other side of the Hudson. And when I say that this is a command performance, I do mean command. Attendance at a certain number of archdiocesan events like the annual Communion Breakfast is one of the requirements for re-certification every five years. "Yes, Sister, I will be happy to attend!"
I console myself that the remainder of June and all of July will be relatively peaceful and almost solitary. Just the occasional parent dropping in to register or former student dropping by to say hello and maybe a few visits from publisher's reps trying to sell me something. I'll be able to spend the bulk of my time closing out one school year and prepping for the new one in September.