So I took the advice of my then-boss, who steered us toward an amazing church called Sacred Heart. I realized then what I had really been looking for in a church:
- Priest. We have to be able to comprehend what he's saying, and he needs to have passion for his ministry. Luckily most places seem to have a priest that I like, as long he's not falling asleep giving his homily or talking with such a strong accent that he might as well be speaking another language.
- Music. I admit it, I'm a liturgical music snob. We tend to go to the "big" mass on Sunday morning, so the music better be the best. I really don't like guitars or folk music in a mass setting. I can't stand choirs who can't sing for beans, and I like those old hymns that everyone knows, and maybe even older. (At Sacred Heart, the music director actually wrote a lot of the music, but it all sounded like it was written 100 years ago. And the cantors were all really amazing.) And congregation, please do not clap at the end. This is a mass, not a choir performance.
- Community and adult formation. Gotta have a nice, welcoming bunch of people. I figure that should come if you go to a place long enough and get involved. I also got spoiled at our church in Norfolk because of the adult formation activities. It seems a lot of churches are only focused on their religious education for K-8 and their RCIA classes. But even us adults could use some activities to deepen our faith and share these experiences with our brothers and sisters in Christ. You can't just expect to build meaningful spiritual relationships at a few fish fries a year. Sacred Heart did things like a dinner and a talk (called "gathering at table"), bible studies, justice and peace ministry, etc. There weren't a ton of kids at the parish, so there were a lot of opportunities for adults.
One luxury we had in Norfolk was that we were able to walk to church, which I know I'm going to miss a lot. But hopefully there is an awesome church in this area just waiting for us to show up!