Highest Bidder


Somebody thought it was a good idea. Forsaking candy and magazine sales, our parish school operates one fundraiser each year, a dinner-dance/auction combination that substantially pads the income side of the ledger.

Last year, an enterprising committee auctioned off front pews for Christmas and Easter Masses of the winner’s choice. So naturally I found out about it a few days before Christmas from the committee rep who insisted on two particular pews in church at the 3:30 Eve Mass, our very biggest.

I still don’t know why 800-plus Catholics converging on a single point in Kansas City’s geography doesn’t register 6.5 on somebody’s scale and prompt a fire marshal to appear at 3:19PM to tell us, “Folks, please skim two-hundred off the top of this crowd, or I’ll shut you down.”

It’s not as though they can’t enjoy a simultaneous Mass in the school auditorium that begins five minutes late, ends five minutes early, and is in general, less of a zoo than either school lunch hour or that first Christmas Eve Mass.

“Less of a zoo” is my 3:30 musical assignment, so I politely told the committee rep I had not been informed about pew auctioning, and that for about four really good reasons, I could not guarantee the lucky bidders would get their seats unless they came about twenty minutes early. The fit hit the shan as it were, despite the fact that 3:30 church has a cobbled together usher group that prefers not to seat people and stick to their (more valuable?) reserved pew in the very back row, and that lectors and eucharistic ministers have long been used to having that particular row reserved on Christmas Eve. Stiff conversation ensued:

“Who are the people who bought the pew?” I asked.

“I can’t tell you,” she said.

“Would you ask them if they could move to the front pew in one of the other sections?”

“No, I can’t do that. They want the far left.”

“Are you sure they couldn’t come at 3:10 for their seat?”

“No, that wouldn’t be fair.”

“Would I be able to ask them personally and explain the situation?”

“No; they want to remain anonymous.”

“You realize I can’t guarantee those pews will be saved at that Mass; I’m not even in the building for it.”

Needless to say, this idea was surfaced again this year, but thankfully, the people requested 8PM Mass. (The Chiefs have a 12 noon start on Christmas Eve this year.) 8PM I can do. I don’t have “less of a zoo,” nor do I have any musical duties at all. I just welcome people to Mass and hover the fringes of liturgy in case something goes awry.

Next year, I hope they decide to auction a parking space instead.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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