In Your Midst

The Pew Next to You

July 2010

Meet the Berrys and the Brunos

The Berrys (Sean, Katherine, Isabelle, and Sadie) are a family in a pew next to you—specifically, the back of the East Apse on the north side, at the 10 o’clock Mass.  They’ve been sitting there so long they can’t imagine sitting anywhere else!

 Sean and Kathy met twenty-two years ago next month “at a smoky bar.”  “It really isn’t as seedy as it sounds,” Sean adds.  When Sean’s date was in the bathroom, Sean seized his opportunity to introduce himself to Katherine and get her phone number.  He called three times before he got through to her. And the rest is history.

Kathy and Sean were married at St. James Cathedral in 1993.  Father Ryan presided at their wedding, and Kathy points out, he baptized the whole family with the exception of Kathy herself!  Isabelle was baptized in 1997, Sadie in 2006, and—after nearly twenty years of attending Mass!—Sean was baptized at the Easter Vigil in 2009.

The family commutes to the Cathedral from Edmonds, and they love their Sunday ritual.  They get up around eight.  Sean makes breakfast—pancakes, waffles, or oatmeal.  Cinqo, their dog, gets fed.  They are in the car shortly after 9:00am.  (“We used to leave at 20 minutes past nine,” Sean says, “but that didn’t work too well, especially if we decided to stop for coffee!”)  After Mass, Sean and Kathy are often to be found at the espresso cart in Cathedral Hall, making lattes and mochas while Isabelle and Sadie participate in Children’s Faith Formation.  Isabelle is a Youth Music veteran, and has sung in our youth choirs for six years.  “I like Ms. Sunde, and being with friends,” she says.  “And I love Great Music—the first night, especially.”  She loves hanging out with her parents at the espresso cart after Mass, chatting and visiting with friends.  Sadie’s favorite things about St. James?  “Singing and muffins.”

Sundays are mellow days, days for hanging out together, shopping, and family dinner (“Sundays aren’t chore days,” Kathy says).  Getting the whole family together for Mass can be challenging, but Kathy and Sean have been managing it for years.  Kathy offers this advice for parents who have trouble getting their kids through Mass:  “Don’t be afraid to bring a little snack and a drink—kids have a hard time getting through an hour without anything.”  Sean says:  “And don’t be afraid to slip out, whether to the chapel or the west vestibule.”  Kathy adds: “The most important thing is, don’t give up.  Kids thrive on routine.  You have to go every Sunday.  Get into a routine, and it will work.  Even if the kids don’t always understand what’s going on during the Mass, they’ll understand that this is what we do.”  Sean notes, “Bribery works well, too.”

 “St. James is home for us,” Kathy concludes.  “When we first came to St. James, we were living in Greenwood, so it wasn’t a long haul.  We could have gone to other parishes when we moved to Edmonds.  But we’ve gone through so much here.  This is home.”
The Brunos are usually to be found in the south transept at the Noon Mass.  The family—Matthew, Michelle, Major (17), Violet (14), August (10), Ariadne (6), and Pascal (2)—take up almost a whole pew all by themselves!

The family loves Sundays.  “Our Sunday ritual revolves around Church,” Michelle says.  ‘We love it because we’re together all day, from going to Mass in the morning to ending the day with a family rosary.”

The family used to go to a parish closer to home, but that parish was going through a lot of changes, and the family needed a place where the children’s faith could blossom.  St. James was that place.  As Matthew puts it—”After hearing Father Ryan preach, I said, I’m home!”

What’s their secret for getting everyone together and to Mass on time? “One of the strongest elements of our family is teamwork,” Major says.  Michelle says:  “The key is that everyone wants to go.  And everyone has a job.  The older kids help pack bags.  There’s an order for showers, and that speeds things up, too.  My advice for other parents would be, do as much as you can the night before.  It took us a long time to get as efficient as we are.  And go easy on yourself, too.  Sometimes, at first, we were a little late, or I didn’t have time to do my makeup.”  (“You look just as good without it,” August comments.)

Matthew adds:  “The greatest motivation for us is the emptiness we feel without the Sunday Mass.  It’s worth the sacrifice.”

Matthew, Violet, and August are all readers at the Cathedral.  Violet says:  “At first I didn’t want to do it at all—I was really nervous.  But it reminded me of acting on stage, only better.  I remember once when I was about to read, I read a little prayer that’s taped to the counter where the readers prepare.  And I realized, it wasn’t about me!  I had an amazing experience of realizing that God was speaking through me.”

Major graduated from Kennedy High School this year and is headed to the University of Washington, Tacoma campus in the fall.  Violet is opting for an online home-schooling course as she begins 9th grade this fall.  She loves ballet and helping to home-school the younger children, especially Ariadne.  This summer, both Major and Violet will participate in the Youth Migrant Project—Major for the second year in a row.

August is also studying at home.  This summer in addition to “boffering,” which he loves, he’s doing some challenging reading (with encouragement—and a modest bribe—from his dad).  Dickens, Twain, Kipling, and Conan Doyle are all on the reading list.  (Matthew and Michelle were both English majors in college.)

What does the family like best about St. James?  Major:  “I was surprised, given how big the parish was, what a strong community there was here.  People notice you’re here, and they care.”  August:  “Father Ryan’s homilies.”  Ariadne:  “The children’s liturgy of the word.”  Violet:  “How reverent everyone is about the Mass.”  Michelle:  “I feel joy when we come here—a combination of community, reverence, dedication to the ministry.  It feeds the spirit.”  Matthew:  “The Mass, our highest form of prayer, is celebrated so beautifully at St. James.  There’s a gravity to the liturgy, but without ego getting in the way.  People transparently give of themselves.”

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