When school started up again after Labor Day, we of course headed for the beach because we homeschool and because we can. Since we live in Portland, a mini vacation to the Oregon coast is a quick and easy escape and there are so many seaside communities to explore.
This year we had our sights set on Rockaway Beach. I booked a vacation rental close to the beach for a couple of nights and proceeded to look up if there was a local Catholic Church – there was! Even better, it was located in the circle our vacation rental was in on the map, and looked really close to the beach. Immediately I started daydreaming of walking along the beach to go to a daily Mass.
Finally the day before our stay, our rental company gave us the exact location of our house which I Google-mapped immediately. I pretty much squealed in excitement to find out our rental was literally on the same block as the church! I had so much fun telling the kids that Jesus was going to be our literal neighbor while on vacation. They got quite a kick out of it.
Wait… Then I realized this church sounds familiar… off to find my copy of “Monuments, Marvels, and Miracles, A Traveler’s Guide to Catholic America” by Marion Amberg. Sure enough, it was the church I had read about who’s claim to fame is the closest Catholic Church to the beach in the lower forty-eight states. How fun is that?!
Since our travel dates were in the middle of the week, I had high hopes of making it to daily Mass and maybe even adoration. My husband slipped away for morning Mass the first full day we were there. Then the next morning was my opportunity, to be followed by adoration. However, things didn’t go as planned that morning. The church was closed and for some reason Mass was canceled. I was heartbroken. I didn’t even get to go inside.
Instead I walked the grounds a bit, admired the touching statue of Mary by the Sea looking out to the mighty Pacific, and found a perfect bench looking out to the ocean to pray a rosary instead. Then it was back to the chaos of having a gaggle of children on vacation.
Even though my ideals of a mini retreat at a picturesque little church by the sea were never realized, I still thoroughly enjoyed having Jesus as my neighbor and having the church as our anchor point to find our way home. How very fitting, right?
In years past when we’ve house-hunted, we’ve tried to find homes walking distance from a church, but it never worked out. I don’t know why we’ve never thought about looking into while on vacation, especially a pilgrimage. If we were a short walk from a church, I might actually be able to get all of my kids out the door on time for a morning mass!
Now, as I plan our upcoming family pilgrimage for next year, I’m looking first to see if there is any place we can stay within walking distance to a church, because really, there’s no better neighbor than Jesus.
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