Harr Family Returning Home: Why We Keep Choosing Epiphany.
It's 2002 - We’re approaching Eastern IL's graduation. Joe proposed to me in April and I am starting at State Farm, as an Actuarial Analyst, in August. We knew we would need a church in Blo-No and it became apparent, it would be the ideal place to wed, since it was halfway from Joe’s immediate family and high school friends in the Belleville area, and mine in Chicago’s suburbs. We had found our faith home in college, at our Newman Center. We had consulted with the director, who knew Bloomington Catholic churches well, and helped us on where we should start our marriage journey together. He saw the best fit for us, would be Epiphany. We didn’t blindly take his advice but, we were content enough with the choice. Back then, mass was only about 35 minutes, if it was running long, and that impressed us in our youth. It met our needs. Father Eric soon entered the equation and we enjoyed walking through our marriage prep with him. This was going on 15 years ago, so I suspect he’s only more enjoyable to go through that journey with. I highly recommend getting married at Epiphany, especially for young couples. He’ll call you out and really get you thinking about life together and your joint values and how those mesh.
Fast forward through 9 years of marriage, with Epiphany as our parish church. Quite honestly, if you wanted to know what every mass time is like at nearly every other church in Blo-No, Joe and I know it. Some time in there we made a vow of faith to attend mass every Sunday and all Holy Days of Obligation and I can’t recall when either of us has missed since. We have went to Holy Trinity, St Pat’s of Merna, “Regular” St. Pat’s, and Epiphany. What mass was most convenient for that weekend’s schedule was how we made our determination. Then we had our first girl, Grace in 2013. We belonged to Epiphany, and it was clear to us she’d be baptized there. While we were wanderers, we still felt an allegiance to always come ‘home’ to Epiphany. By 2014, she was hitting that age where she just couldn’t be in mass for very long. We tried EVERY mass time at nearly every church. We found that the 7pm mass @ St Pat’s of Merna worked best but, it was still less than ideal. We felt weird taking her to their mass with the nursery when we weren’t parishioners. Then, Epiphany OPENED THEIR NURSERY. LIFECHANGER! Once we got past the 1st or 2nd initial dropoff, we were golden. We started to get acquainted with the lovely parent volunteers, with similarly aged children, and began bonding more with other parish families. We found consistency we never had before with going to Epiphany’s 9:00 Sunday mass, nearly exclusively. Taylor, born in 2015, had by then entered the picture. It used to make me smile when I’d see someone look at Joe & I on off weeks, when the nursery & Little Magi were closed, and they saw our family of 2 was a family of 4. I always thought I would have my kids at mass with us but, it works so well for us, and for them. Little Magi is simply wonderful for the children. If you have not tried it for your 3 or 4 year old, we also highly recommend it!
Speaking of 3 & 4 year olds, when our oldest was approaching age 3, we realized it was at that age we needed to start thinking about school. We knew we needed to pick a preschool and the school we choose ultimately needed to be the school she would go to for Kindergarten and on. I had assumed it to be Epiphany, but would you know another Catholic school in town and was closer to home and work. Enter weighing the convenience factor again! However, when it came down to it, we were so impressed by the religious program at Epiphany, proximity of the church to the school and the regular mass cadence, we could not justify school selection boiled down to mere convenience. Nor, switching churches just for a cheaper tuition. Bonus-Grace now in pre-K at KMAELC just adores her assigned older mass buddy! Not to mention her schoolmates have great parents that have led us to expand our familiarity with the faces in the church directory that just came out. And Grace adores each and every teacher at KMAELC.
Then our security bubble imploded, out of nowhere, around the 2017 holidays. We both work at State Farm and it was at this time threats of transition ensued. I found out I was safe in February. Pfew-at least we had secured 1 income. But we didn’t know about Joe and it honestly opened us up to exploring other options out of fear. Fear is real. And then I had a great work opportunity fall in my lap. In WI. 3 days before my scheduled interview we found out Joe was safe. I still went and was made an enticing offer after being impressed by the people, position and company. They even paid for the family to come up and explore the fit. And try as we did, we just couldn’t make it fit...Like Blo-No. Like Epiphany Catholic Church. Like KMAELC. Like home. It was a hard decision and still raw but I submitted my rejection of their generous offer at 9pm on 4/25. And then I sat down and knew exactly how I would write this blog post. There are times we chose Epiphany out of convenience. There are more times however that there has been another pull. The church, the fellowship and the Blue Ribbon school for our children have consistently shown us to be our faith home. Thanks to everyone who have helped us on each of our journeys to continue to find our way back home.
Joe, Regina, Grace, & Taylor Harr