I can’t say I’ve been a fan of handling overflow crowds at Mass by stuffing them into the vestibule, or setting up a tv in the parish hall. That said, we have a decent situation at my new parish. It’s Parents’ Weekend at Iowa State, and after Saturday success on the athletic field and court, Mom and Dad want to take their college man or woman to Mass. Significant numbers of families chose 10:30 Mass in Ames today.
We cracked out over a hundred extra chairs, a third Communion song, and lots of extra hospitality. Check out this across-the-church image from the piano, with our on-time (aka not early) churchgoers seated behind and to the right of the font and the Great Cross, under the east balcony:
Including the day chapel and the south loft, our seating capacity is 852. That’s the largest for a church I’ve ever served. We’re not packed to the gills on Christmas and Easter, like most of your parishes. But Parents’ Weekend, Homecoming, and for the first time earlier this year, the Sunday before classes started, there’s a nice Triple Crown we look forward to now. If only we subjected our new sacristans (Good job, Larry!) to this every weekend!
So what’s your ideal solution for overflow? Sit in the purple chair and render judgment: turn ’em away? set up a speaker in the parking lot? pack the vestibule and hope the fire chief isn’t a parishioner?