I know now that it's not the Priest that we go to church for, it is to worship God and receive Him through Eucharist, but 2 years ago I was very concerned with who the new Priest at my home parish was when we moved back to Morgantown. I even put off going to Mass for 3 weeks because I was afraid I wouldn't like the Priest and would 'have' to find a new Parish.
As The Man and I walked into the church on Sunday, my heart was heavy and I was nervous. I have been through Priest changes before, but I never understood why people cried when a Priest left. I understand now. As Father Leon finished his homily, he first apologized if he had in any way failed any of us (yep, the tears were started), but it was what came next that truly touched my heart. He reminded us, that for any of us who he had ministered to and helped, that it was not really him, but rather God who had helped us. He couldn't be more right. I have no doubt in my mind or heart that God placed Father Leon in my life. It's no secret that my knowledge of Catholicism is still limited, but it is much less limited thanks to Father Leon. Not only because of what he taught, but the way he taught it.
My friend Kate is a theology grad student and she once said that Father Leon didn't challenge her enough. I very much see her point, I see how if I was feeling challenged and growing from what Father Leon taught, how someone with a background in Catholicism may not feel challenged by him. Even The Man has said at times (after I've gone on and on about how a Homily made something clearer) that he didn't really learn anything new. (The Man went through RCIA 8 years ago.) Had Father Leon challenged them, I would have been lost. I very well may have walked away from the Catholic Church to another religion because my (wrong) impressions would have been perpetuated.
This Sunday, we will meet our new Priest and I am looking forward to it. And I don't think I'd be able to say that if Father Leon had not been a part of my life. So, while I will resist the urge to become a "Father Leon Groupie" and following him all over the state to where he is filling in, I will forever be grateful for the gift that he is in my life. It is just one more very clear example to me of how God truly does go before us. Always.