Sunday, June 26, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Friends in Christ

Living in a college town for nearly 16 years, my husband and I have become accustomed to the annual rite of spring: folks moving on. In all our springs here, scores of acquaintances and friends have moved out of our lives and into teaching jobs, fellowships or graduate work in places as far flung as Japan, Israel and Korea.

This year is no different, but my feelings about saying goodbye to our friends are. This is because these particular friends are friends I have met through Communion and Liberation, friends with whom we have shared our spiritual journeys and who  have spoken to the deepest part of my heart. Consider what St. Paul said to the Colossians about Christian friendship:

"For I want you to know how great a struggle I am having for you and for those in Laodicea and all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged as they are brought together in love, to have all the richness of fully assured understanding, for the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one may deceive you by specious argument. For even if I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing as I observe your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.
Several dear friends are moving far away. First, M., who led our School of Community, returned home to Milan to finish her dissertation. Then another friend from School of Community landed a teaching gig in New Orleans. And finally, tonight over vanilla ice cream, rhubarb pie and limoncello, we said our final goodbyes to A. and A., and their beautiful three-year-old (pictured, above, at age two, at Christmas Vigil Mass) whom we have known since before she was born. The husband played guitar for School of Community and we all have shared many conversations about faith. The family leaves tomorrow morning for Alabama, where the mom has landed a university teaching job. There were tears in this house after they left tonight.

Writer Paul A. Zalonski, a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, describes the role that friendship plays in the Communion and Liberation movement: "Christ is encountered through a friendship with those who follow Him--leads to a rediscovery of man's 'religious sense,' that is, the fundamentally religious character of the questions and desires that are inscribed on his heart.

Our friendships have been moved by the Presence of God among us. And so I understand that nothing, really, is lost with these goodbyes.


  1. Even though nothing is really lost, it can still be so hard. Hugs to you, Allison!

  2. What a beautiful post - friendship is at heart of community. Prayers for one and all.