I have a new job. I'll be playing for the two choirs at my high school, which I did last year until I was injured, so that's my old job. My new job is playing for a minimum of two masses per week at a different Catholic parish that I played at before my accident. The pastor (head priest) of the parish for which I now play asked me tonight, when my family went to mass, if I'd be willing to help out with musician chores. I told him I would need to call him back as soon as I could.
I asked my mom what I should do. She said that it is up to me, but at the very least I would need to call the monsignor of the old parish and either: A) ask him if he was ready for me to return, as he told me shortly after my accident that my position would be held for me until I was ready B) ask him if he wanted me back, but tell him I'd need a slightly higher salary (she didn't recommend this option, but she said when one is offered a different job at ahigher salary, it isn't unethical to give your previous or current employer the opportunity to match the salary even if the employer is a church (she didn't say what she knows but isn't aware that I know, which is that my replacment at the old parish is being paid more than I was); or C) tell him that I wouldn't be returning. I chose to take the most noble route and ask if he was ready for me to return, and not ask for a higher salary than I was receiving previously.
When I called the monsignor at home tonight, he asked, "Who?" when I identified myself, then complained hat I had called at him at home on his own time instead of during business hours at the office. (My dad said that's half the problem with the Church -- that it has become a "business.") The monsignor next asked what made me think the position was still open. I told him it was because he had told me it would be held for me.
"That changed when your status changed," he told me. He apparently continues to be upset with me because of the infamous "dart-board incident," which happened when he came to my house just minutes after I was first discharged from the hospital and found a dart-board with the picture of the guy who asked another girl to the prom without canceling his date for that same event with me. (The guy, who is also known as prom date pond scum, has parents who have agricultural wealth and donate generously to the parish. For readers who didn't read an earlier blog, the dart board was a gift from a friend.) I asked the monsignor if it would help if I removed the picture, which has not been the recipient of a single dart aimed in its direction, from the dart board and put it into an album or a frame. He said thhat it was a little late for that. I thanked him for his time, said good-by, and hung up.
I called the priest from the other parish, who didn't complain that I was calling him during non-business hours and at home, and told him that I would accept his offer. He asked if he could come by our house with a contract. I said yes, but had never signed a conract for playing the organ or piano in church before, and the thought made me very slightly nervous. My mom said not to worry, that it is standard practice.
The priest must have ESP or some equivalent -- maybe all good priests do -- because he was at our house five minues later with a detailed typed contract. The contract is a good one for me, as it gives me two weeks of paid vacation and two weeks of sick leave, which I've never had before, possibly because I didn't have a contract before. I will be paid more for the two masses per week than I was for three masses at the other parish.
I have the option at the end of each month to sign up for as many Saturday 5:00 masses as I would like for the next month at the same rate that each Sunday mass paid. I have the first right of refusal on weddings and funerals. The priest told me that he understood that some illnesses or injuries come without warning, and that if I had to call in sick with so little advance notice that a substitute couldn't be found, the congregation would get through the mass without instrumental music. I will begin on the first Saturday evening in September. I warned the priest that my organ-playing skills are not yet at 100% because I cannot yet use my right leg for the foot pedals, but he very nicely said that 50% of my skills would be better than what they've had. I'm not sure that is truly the case, but it was a nice thing for him to have said, and I thanked him for the compliment.
The parish is the one we've been attending since the monsignor told my parents that no one in our family, including my brother, who had no more to do with "Dart-boardgate," as we've come to callthe incident, than Joe Biden or Sarah Palin, could have communion until we'd sufficiently reconciled ourselves with God. I would have been happy to go to confession and repent for the iniquity of my ways, but I tried to do so in Utah, and the priest there said that ther was nothing for which to repent regarding that specific incident. The new parish is actually closer to our home than the other parish. It's wasn't yet constructed when we moved here. Because we started out at the other parish, we maintained our membership there after the new one was constructed.
The entire "Dart-boardgate" occurrence has been very disillusioning to me, somewhat like when I learned the truth about Santa Claus, or when Dorothy looked behind the curtain to see the Wizard of Oz and discover how ordinary a person he was. While I undertand that clergy are human and as such will err on occasion just as anyone else will, this incident was too close to home for me. It was far better than learning the fallabilty and human weakness of a priest by being his molestation victim, and I'm very thankful nothing of that nature ever happened to me. At the same time, I wish I could go back to the time that I thought all servants of God were practically perfect and before I knew that politics and religion are irrevocably intertwined.
I begin school on Monday. If you are a person who prays or one who has other ways of influencing the powers that bestow serendipity to or upon a person, please employ your partcular method on my behalf that I will not be trampled in the halls of my high school. Had I written this a week ago, I might have asked you to pray or wish for me that I would never have to return to my school campus, or that if I did, no one would make fun of me or be unkind. My outlook has broadened. The vast majority of my peers will treat me as they did before, which is to occasionally poke fun at my thinness or lack of development in particular areas. A few jerks will make fun of me, expecially after the wrappings are removed from my leg and I am walking without crutches and with a limp. I no longer worry about those people; they'll always be there, but what they say, do, or think is of little or no consequence.
To anyone who reads this, have a great rest of the weekend or rest of the summer or whatever applies to you. Before you know, it will be gone, and we'll be back to DVRing Judge Alex or whatever are your favorite TV programs.