Saturday, November 8, 2008

The rest of my Saturday, or the Quest for the Certificate

YaYa is in need of a certified copy of her baptismal certificate to continue with her First Communion classes, and I've put it somewhere so 'safe' I can't find it.

No problem. Just call the church and get a copy, right? Wrong. The church, where my parents and I were married and where YaYa was baptized, but which I no longer attend, can't locate ANY records related to YaYa.

I think the confusion stems from the fact that I bypassed the then-current pastor (with his approval) and had Fr. Frank Yaniak conduct the ceremony. He was a classmate of my Grandma, had given Last Rites to my Big Grandpa, and conducted our wedding ceremony He was a great guy and we'd become friendly over the years.

Although ill he came out of retirement for the baptism, but at that point he would have had to rely on the parish, not himself, to officially record the event.
Apparently that didn't happen.

So what we did is have YaYa and I, with our scrapbook of baptism photos and some mementos of the day, go to the evening mass. Afterwards we approached a parish official with the evidence, I turned on some charm and threw in my family connection to the church (dating back four generations), and was told to go to the rectory in ten minutes.

There we met with three parish officials and the current priest. I was shown all the records and yup, we aren't in there. They looked at the photos and clearly believed me. I got the makeshift certificate, which solves the immediate problem, but I do want this resolved. You can think it a small or foolish thing, but such a gaffe in the record can follow her through her life.

"I better check to see if my wedding is recorded," I told the room. "I'd hate to know I wasn't really married. Then again, maybe I'd hate to learn I was."

That brought some laughs, I shook some hands, and the priest gave YaYa some chocolates and she expressed her thanks.

But I must say being back there brought up some nostalgia. I liked the church, which is almost Puritan in it's simplicity (esp. for a hardcore Catholic congregation) and my family goes back a long way with the place. Really, it was just the priest who took over from Yaniak that pushed me out the door.

I'll hold my tongue because I do respect the office, but that guy . . was not someone I'd have a beer with. I once praised a Korean priest that gave an eloquent and intelligent sermon the Sunday after 9/11, and the parish priest contemptuously implied I was a racist by referencing him as 'the Korean priest' instead of his name. I, uh, didn't know his name that first day, you [bleep].

In the intervening years the church kicked him to the curb. That 'Korean' priest is now in charge of the Parish and the man I shook hands with tonight. But I'd already jumped ship and never returned.

I don't broker much crap about the Catholic Church for many reasons, but I've been lucky in that I can name two priests as men I respect, admire, and call 'friend'. I'm glad to see my original parish is now in the hands of a man who, in another set of circumstance, could have joined that group.


Jeanne said...

What a pain, not being able to find the baptismal certificate...

Good luck

alphawoman said...

You know that I attend Mass when I am in mental anguish etc. Otherwise I go to a Christian Mega church. The priests kind of scare me (duh, though I never was a target for any of them) and I have many stories about their pig headedness. Heck, the church even scares me!! lol. But the that is something soothing.