Community that spans years & miles.
I have no idea how to put into words the complete beauty and heavenly bliss that was our recent trip to Boston. Boston will forever be my spiritual home, where I spent eight of the most formative years of my personal life, where I also met my husband and began married life. Many of our friends have moved away from Boston by now (not all!), but every trip back there is still so great. The most wonderful part of this particular time, though, was that basically my entire college Catholic community (#bucc) came back: all of my best friends. (Fun fact: this is the first time EVER that my four best friends and I have been in the same place WITH our spouses - it was epic). But the big reason we all reunited for this long weekend? FATHER MICHAEL ZIMMERMAN
Mike Father Michael is one of my absolute dearest friends. Christ used him in a very specific and profound way to bring me back to the Church in my sophomore year of college. It wasn't that I had left the Church, but I was extremely far from God, living a life that now makes me cringe when I look back on it. And I was hurting in so many ways. From the time that Mike invited me around, he was a constant support. Our friendship became something truly special, and I was constantly amazed by his holiness and zeal (and goofiness - we always had a good laugh). He has a great gift of evangelization, and I know I'm not the only one who has been deeply impacted by his witness.
Throughout our remaining years at BU, Mike continued to be one of the most unique and important supports for me as I journeyed along in the faith. When he told me that he'd be entering seminary following college, it just made sense. And praise God, seminary is only minutes from where I lived post-graduation. So we still got to frequent Mass together (we recently laughed about this because most of the Saturday Masses at my local parish were funerals...sometimes in Spanish...but we pushed through haha), and grow in friendship. He also got to meet Kevin as the two of us began our relationship - a great joy for me! Since that time, we've had plenty of long distance phone calls as he's been studying in Rome and we've made sure to get together when he's back in the US.
An Ordained Man
Our entire community has been looking forward to Mike's ordination for years. It is just so evident as to how wonderful he is given that people traveled from California, Texas, Arizona, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio - literally all over. And the entire reunion and celebration was total perfection (minus the lack of sleep I got, but a sacrifice I'd happily offer again!).
The ordination itself was so moving, so beautiful. Cardinal Sean's homily, the laying on of hands, the music ("Oh God, Beyond All Praising" - my all time fave), the new Priests! I've been to a few ordinations before, and they are always wonderful, but there was something truly special about this one.
And the festivities to follow - my goodness. Party after party after party. The reception for Father Michael was incredible - lovely and soul-stirring toasts given by Mother Olga and a fellow Priest, the BUCC community singing "Prince of Peace" (a college classic for us all), and just being in the presence of such phenomenal people. Afterwards, a smaller group of us went to Father Michael's parents' home for a late night barbecue - it was so nice to have a more intimate gathering with the newly ordained man.
We then had a Sunday breakfast at Mother Olga's convent with the BUCC folks. How do I explain the grace that overflowed? Some of these people I talk to on a daily basis (looking at you #allthemarriedladies), some are still very close friends but with less frequent contact, and some I have not seen since college. But it was like stepping back into our old brownstone on Bay State Road. This community is real and beautiful. We socialized, but also shared graces of our lives as well as prayer intentions. Then we booked it to Father Michael's first Mass of thanksgiving. Again - WOW THE BEAUTY. I can't describe what it was that made this so incredible, but man it was. And Kevin and I got to bring up the gifts, which was so special! Seeing Father Michael celebrate Mass was a tremendous gift.
Reunion of all Reunions
The days that were not filled with ordination festivities were spent with my bffs. An accidental sleepover with three of our families in an apartment (a memorable experience), one-on-one time with a few people here and there, playing with the babies & toddlers, a ladies night out, living the joy that is growing families (there are now seven kids between us - some moving & grooving, some in-utero), and just enjoying the rare moments of being physically present to one another.
Looking forward to our big family vacation happening next spring. I think most couples committed whole-heartedly as we said our tearful goodbyes, pretending it wasn't going to be many months until we [hopefully] saw each other again.
Thank you, Father Michael, for your yes. We all will be praying for you and your Vocation of selfless love. And we owe you a ton for this monumental reunion.