Pastoral Events

Tonight begins my weekend. It’s a one-day affair, two full nights of sleep on either end of it. I’m looking forward to it. In fact, as soon as I finish this post, I’m heading out to the grocery store to indulge one of my favorite tasks: late night food shopping.

We’ve had an eventful 2007 thus far in the parish. Our newly minted associate pastor was reassigned a week ago Wednesday by Bishop Finn, effective tomorrow. Fr Steven is going to a nearby parish he served as a seminarian intern a few years ago. He’ll be the third new priest assigned there in the past three months. The hope is that he can add a stabilizing presence there after some leadership upheaval. This past Fall, he’s been away finishing his academic degree. And since we also have the Vicar General in residence, it was probably a logical move from many standpoints. Likely more logical than other options. So I’ll be sad to see him go.

Fr Don raises the issue of the number of Sunday Masses in his bulletin column this week. Our current Sunday morning schedule is 7:30, 9:00, 10:30, and noon. His trial balloon is to drop the noon and move the others to 8, 9:30, and 11.

Those four Masses have enough people to fill the church three times comfortably. But those pesky parishioners have their own habits, and they like going to certain Masses when they want to go. Not when we’d like them to distribute themselves.

The liturgy committee discussed it in detail last night. Discussion tabled for more listening to parishioners. Complicating matters is the nearby renovation of St Catherine’s Parish. The plan is for their parishioners to worship Sundays at St Matthew’s, but for many of them, our parish is closer. Starting last weekend, we saw a few of them in the pews. We might not be changing Mass times just yet. But it is a change for our pastor who, in twenty years of service, has most often been the only priest in a parish with only two or three weekend Masses.

Interesting few months ahead of us, eh?

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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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5 Responses to Pastoral Events

  1. Gavin says:

    Mass times really are an illogical issue. Why oh why it turns someone’s world around to push a Mass back an hour I will never know. If you ask me, the later the better, but for every person that says that there’s another who wants a 4:30 AM Mass for them to go to.

  2. aplman says:

    Habits like regularly worshipping on the Lord’s Day and patterns like worshipping at a particular time may not be logical but they are good. One thing we’ve learned over the last 40 years is that fiddling around with peoples’ ritual (be that rite or behavioral patterns) upsets them pretty easily.

    It’s unfortunate that in so many parishes (perhaps in Todd’s) the question of downsizing the Mass schedule doesn’t get asked until Fr. X is transferred and then suddenly the issue is a critical one. That’s when the response to the possibilty of schedule change can appear to be illogical or even selfish. Change in a Mass schedule is seldom easy but it can be easi-er if the issues can be set in a larger context.

    If the church in Todd’s parish can comfortably accomodate the parish community with three Sunday Masses, it might have been helpful, earlier, to look at a positive reason for downsizing the schedule – bringing the parish closer together in prayer. Many parish Mass schedules are out of proportion to need and thus provide Mass at the convenience of individual worshippers. It’s easy to become accustomed to convenience and difficult to let it go…

  3. Randolph Nichols says:

    After 25 years of working in both Catholic and Protestant churches, I’ve come to the conclusion that excellence in liturgy is directly related to the number of weekend services. With fewer masses human resources are not spread thin. (That’s one reason mainline Protestant preaching, as well as choral music, tends to be better.) Priests and musicians can never do their best when exhausted.

  4. Liam says:

    Gavin

    It’s not entirely illogical. You have the issue of work schedules to deal with. In this dismal post-blue-laws world, lots of people in retail are required to work on Sundays (in addition to hospital workers who’ve always been so required at times), so there is a segment of Mass-goers whose attendance gets disrupted when there are shifts in the Mass schedule.

    In a different category are the families who have children in sports activities that now occur on Sunday morning. In the Boston area, there once was an informal, but widely honored, ban on scheduling those activities on Sunday mornings. That ended in the past decade or so. I don’t think those activities should be given deference in scheduling Masses, frankly. They are not necessary for sustaining the family, unlike work.

    The Eucharistic fast no longer is a factor in scheduling Masses. That was the original reason for the popularity of those early morning Masses. And it’s why the Solemn High Mass was usually scheduled last in the morning and why few communicated at it. Still, many people have inherited habits of Mass attendance deriving from their parent’s attendance patterns. I know I grew up going to 7AM Mass and still have a strong preference for earlier Masses on Sunday because of the liminal associations of that. Those are not quite irrational but a-rational.

  5. Tony says:

    We just did the same thing at our parish, only we cut down 3 Sunday masses to 2. It does take some of the pressure off of our fledgeling music ministry as far as Mass coverage goes.

    One of the biggest complaints people had with the new pastor was the lack of the feeling of “community”. Well, we have people who have gone to the same mass for 40 years meeting people who have gone to the same “other mass” for 40 years meeting each other for the first time. I’m beginning to think it would be a great idea to have one Mass on sunday and get rid of Saturday altogether.

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