Catholic Good Girl

This is one of my favorite days on vacation – the day I revisit my Catholic Good Girl days. It’s when Joseph and I drive north to Winter Harbor and go to Mass at St. Margaret’s Church on Grindstone Neck.

St. Margaret’s is a tiny chapel that seats – maybe – fifty people. It was built years ago to accommodate the Irish kids who worked for the wealthy summer cottage owners. Now it serves the summer Catholics so they don’t have to make the thirty-five minute drive to St. Joseph’s in Ellsworth. It’s only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. I’m in town on the Saturday before Labor Day, which is the last service for the summer.

We left our cottage in Town Hill and drove to the Schoodic Peninsula. First we stopped at Bunkers Harbor in Gouldsboro. It’s close to the this end of Acadia National Park and one of my favorite walks. We walked along the shore for a couple miles, along the Scenic Byway, past Blueberry Hill, and through a combination of rocks and trees that lead up to the shore and the endless horizon that makes my insides relax and my heart feel happy.

We walked until 3:45, getting back to the car with just barely enough time to get to Grindstone Neck and St. Margaret’s. Joseph was looking for a bathroom (it was an outhouse outside the front door of the church) while I headed into church. I got there just as the priest, Father Cahill, was at the top of the aisle waiting to “process” to the altar. I grabbed a hymnal and mass card and followed him down the aisle to an empty pew. Joseph joined me a few minutes later.

Father Cahill is a tall, gray-haired, craggy-looking guy. He was a likeable guy. In his homily he told us he was formerly a pastor but is now the parochial vicar at St. Joseph’s. Based on the way he said Mass, including some one-man singing, he seemed to be a fan of the dramatic. But he gave a good sermon and I enjoyed the mass.

When Mass was over, Joseph and I helped the “organizer” – Rose, a midlife schoolteacher – to close the place down for the winter. This is the “good girl Catholic” part – because it reminds me of being in grade school when I did that kind of thing at church or for the nuns.

Closing up the chapel includes  taking down the alter cloths, packing up the hymnals, flipping up the pew cushions, locking the windows, etc. While we like doing that, Joseph and I are always amazed that, of the twenty or so people who are at Mass this year, only one other person stayed behind to help with the closing up process. However, we know Rose – a Maine resident and a schoolteacher by profession – appreciates it.

Mass was over around five and, even with staying behind to help Rose, it was too early for sunset. So Joseph and I went to the Pickled Wrinkle, a fabulous bar in Birch Harbor. We split a burger and a flatbread while enjoying a beer (Joseph) and some scotch (me) before going to Schoodic Point for sunset. 

I think next year I’m going to pass on Schoodic Point. I’ve been there when it’s quiet and spiritual – and between Mass and scotch – I embrace it. One year there were even a group of young people singing hymns.

Not this year. There were a lot of noisy, chatty people.

After sunset, we headed back to our cottage and called it a day…a good day!

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What are the Maine Diaries?

The Maine Diaries is a fun look at my annual adventure to New England where I unwind from normal life and reconnect with myself.

I was captivated by the Maine Coast on my first trip there in the late 90’s. In the years since, I’ve traveled up and down the coast from Kittery to Calais but I spend most of my Maine time Downeast. I love the adventures I have and the chance to unwind from the world and restore my inner clarity. I chronicle my experiences in The Maine Diaries.

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