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[From Michael's point of view] [From Suzanne's point of view]

After wandering from the Catholic Church for a few years and exploring spirituality away from Christianity, I had returned to the Church in 2002 and had eventually found my way back to Holy Family, volunteering in music ministry as the keyboardist at the 10:30 AM Sunday masses.  I had just been called to form and direct a new guitar/keyboard ensemble for the 4 PM Saturday masses.  We had just pieced a group together and we were starting to practice on Wednesday evenings in the fall of 2002, then staying at the church to provide music for the 7 PM Wednesday night mass.

On Wednesday, October 30, 2002, I noticed (for the second or third week in a row) Suzanne and her mom at the 7 PM Wednesday mass.  After the mass, they were talking with Sister Stanley in one of the pews, so I walked over and joined their conversation.  At the time, I was discerning a possible call to the priesthood which I was exploring with the Jesuits, which provided an interesting start to Suzanne's and my Wednesday night conversations at Sacred Grounds coffee shop (where we started going together every week after mass).  Regardless, we started hanging out more and more and developed a very close friendship.  Looking back, Suzanne always says she just loved sitting there listening to me talk about what I had been doing in my life and all of my thoughts... it's awesome that I loved hearing her talk about the same things!!

[From Michael's point of view] [From Suzanne's point of view]

In October 2002, my Grandma Ritchie unexpectedly became very ill and passed away. Her death was a heart-wrenching experience for me, and my need and desire to be closer to God became more prevalent in my life than ever before.  I began going to mass again at Holy Family every Sunday and Wednesday evenings with my mom.  I had noticed that Michael was playing with the music group at the Wednesday night masses.  In general, I am not the type of person to just walk up to someone after several years and strike up a conversation.  Small talk is truly an art that I have yet to master.

On Wednesday, October 30th, God must have been looking down on Michael and I to help give us a push in each other's direction.  After mass, my mom and I were talking with Sr. Stanley, my fifth grade teacher.  Michael walked up beside us to tell us all of his interest in becoming a Jesuit priest.  My mom told him about the Jesuits in our family, and we talked briefly catching up on old times.

That particular Wednesday marked the first of many Wednesdays and countless hours in which we would spend "catching up" on old times and building a friendship.  We began meeting weekly after Wednesday night mass and some Saturdays at Sacred Grounds. We spent hours sharing our thoughts and telling our stories over coffee, tea and the occasional slice of pumpkin bread.  I looked forward to the time that I was going to spend with Michael each week.  He kept me engaged in conversation and laughing at his stories of growing up.  He spoke of his own experiences with the Catholic Church, and from those conversations, I began to grow in my own journey of spirituality and closeness with God.  In all of the time that I spent with Michael, I never looked at my watch.  We would talk for hours straight, and yet it never seemed to be enough.  Not knowing where our relationship would take us, I was just thankful that God had led us back into each other's lives to be friends and companions for one another.

[From Michael's point of view] [From Suzanne's point of view]

 

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[Link to MikeHalbrook.com]