This is an emotional thing to my children, who have been at this parish with Fr. R. at the helm for the last 5 years. Big Girl remembers a little of our old parish in Florida - she was, after all, 5 when we moved here. But for Little Girl, who was 2 1/2 when we arrived in Virginia, this is a much larger change. She really doesn't remember the old parish or our priests there. For her, Fr. R. is the only pastor she has known. So when he talked about his feelings upon leaving our little parish after next week, she leaned on me and whispered in a shaky voice, "I'm so sad that Fr. R. is leaving." She nearly cried right then and there.
I know the girls will love the new pastor just as much as they love Fr. R., but I also know how they feel. Though they know God is caring for us and he's guiding our bishop in this decision, it's a little scary to have someone new in this situation. I know how they feel because when Pope John Paul II died in 2005, I felt that way, too.
John Paul II was pope from the time I was 8 until I was nearly 35. I loved him terribly, and when he died, it was like a grandfather dying. I wondered how I would love any pope as much as I loved him!
Now that our beloved Pope Benedict XVI has been with us for four years, I look back on that sentiment and smile. I love him just as much as John Paul, and I have such an appreciation for him - one that I never really had for our former pontiff. And it did not take four years to get to this point. One encyclical was all I needed. (Oh, and have you read Spe Salvi, too? Golly, if not, get it printed out and do so! It's beautiful, and I highly recommend it for everyone - Catholics and Protestants and non-believers all alike!)
So the girls will adjust, and they'll come to love our new pastor, I'm sure. But in the meantime, I'll keep them in my prayers.