Weekly Reflection - 5/3/2023
St. Mary's Reflection: Matt Spitzer, Vestry Member
Our recovery from, or evolution due to, the pandemic continues at a varied pace across all aspects of our lives. On Saturday evening, an anonymous benefactor generously provided a dinner for the St. Mary’s community of Young Professionals, which took place in the Parish Hall. It was a joyous occasion, with twenty-one people in attendance to enjoy good food and fellowship. Well after dinner, conversations lasted into the evening. I am confident that the event re-captured the camaraderie that characterized these gatherings of prior generations, including those attended by our anonymous donor, who made this evening possible due to their own experience building relationships with fellow parishioners at St. Mary’s. It was a powerful sign of hope that the vibrant, cross-generational community that makes our parish unique within our City has a bright and promising future.
In the words of its former champion, Molly Irwin, the Young Professionals group is a loosely-defined coalition of parishioners who consider themselves to be young and/or professional. As Rev. David has reminded us, this general demographic in San Francisco has experienced the most pronounced change over the last few years, with a disproportionate number of people relocating out of the Bay Area. Many of us have sequentially said goodbye to a series of close friends who chose to leave the Bay Area in search of something different, easier, more convenient.
While the pandemic greatly accelerated this trend, it also reflects a natural rhythm of San Francisco that transcends the turmoil of the last few years. Many young people move to our City due to its widespread professional opportunities. My wife Laura and I moved to the Bay Area twelve years ago for the bustling life sciences industry, and many of our friends across fields tell a similar story. The innovation and creativity across the Bay Area naturally serve as magnets for young people looking for a way to make an impact and develop a meaningful career. However, as time goes on, other factors gain in importance. It becomes natural to assess whether relocating to be closer to family, or somewhere with a stronger support structure, or at least a more affordable cost of living and childcare, would be the right decision.
It was in this context that Rev. David’s Homily caught my attention Sunday morning. He reminded us that the hyper-individualistic culture we live in today can create something of an obsession with self-sufficiency, at times at the expense of community. While that message certainly rang true, in the backdrop of an evening full of fellowship, it also left me optimistic that St. Mary’s has this vital role to play in the modern fabric of San Francisco. This term of serving on the Vestry has convinced me of that. St. Mary’s can be that place where we all find support from one another as we both celebrate the unique opportunities and contend with the challenges of life in our City.