After driving two hours from Maine to Massachusetts, I barely had enough time to run to the bathroom and throw on my dress at the the house we rented for the night. Tropical Storm Andrea, had exited New England earlier that morning, and the sun was working hard to peak through the uninvited clouds. With my brother and his wife, we drove the short distance to St. Anthony's Church in neighboring Cohasset, another in a line of attractive seaside communities that form a chain along the South Shore from Hingham to Duxbury. We arrived exactly at 2 o’clock, the scheduled time for the wedding.
|My Sister, Me, My Mom, & My other Sister|
He was different than any priest I had ever known; he laughed and danced, and seemed to enjoy life. While I had my hunches he was gay, I knew he couldn’t admit it as a priest. As a college student, I began to experiment with my sexuality, dating and hooking-up with both girls and boys. And while this was the 80’s and the fear of contracting HIV/AIDS was gaining attention in society, I, like so many, never thought I would be directly affected by it. Coming home during the summers during college and after graduation, I did see him on a few occasions. One was at a funeral service for a close friend who died in a horrible car crash a year out of high school. Another was at a special wedding, where he joyfully married my sister on another beautiful June morning. The final time, just a month before my own wedding, he was lying in an open casket at his own memorial service.
|My Favorite Priest and his Warm Smile|
In the years since, I’ve only gone to church a few times, mostly for special occasions, like baptisms, first communions, anniversaries, and the rare wedding. I’m sure my aunt was nervous on her big day, but I was anxious too. Standing taller than most of the congregation with my heels, I knew I was being seen by many, and probably judged by a few. Sitting, then standing, then sitting again, I tried to follow the rules and rituals, but felt like an imposter. I couldn’t pay attention to the prayers and the gospel being read into the microphone, and lost interest.
|Happy Couple Exchanging Vows|