The Armchair Liturgist Tries To Coordinate Mass Schedules

armchair1.jpgI played a wedding at our sister parish, St Cecilia, yesterday. They had posted a sign on the doors, something to the effect of “Our air conditioning system needs repair. We understand it will be a warm weekend, so if you need more comfort at worship, neighboring parishes do provide AC.” Our parish’s Mass schedule and that of the parish in nearby Gilbert, Iowa was listed.

It’s about an eight-minute drive across town to get to us, and maybe 15 minutes to get to Gilbert, to the north of us, by county roads. Thing is, our Sunday Mass schedules are identical.

8:30 and 10:30 in my parish and at St C’s. 8:30 only in Gilbert.

There’s been a start to a discussion on Mass schedules in my community, though mainly on weekdays. But Sunday was also raised as an issue. Does it make sense for us to have the same Mass times? It struck me that an elderly or ill person might come to St Cecilia at 8:29 or 10:28 and there would be no way they could avoid missing some of the Liturgy of the Word at one of the other parishes if air conditioning was a serious need.

We’re looking to the day when our three parishes will be served by two priests, not three. At that point, does it make sense to still have aligned Mass schedules? Or won’t it matter much?

When I lived in southern Kansas City, the deanery parishes coordinated Saturday evening liturgy: 4:00, 4:30, 5:00, 5:30. Would that work on Sunday, I wonder?

Sit in the purple chair, my friends, and be the deanery liturgist. Would you coordinate Mass schedules across parish boundaries? If so, what would be your guiding principles, and your ideal schedule? If not, why not?

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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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2 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist Tries To Coordinate Mass Schedules

  1. LIam says:

    I am informed that the reason pastors typically resist staggering local schedules has to do with fears about diverting collections. It’s apparently easier to stagger schedules when churches are part of a cluster that pools collections.

    As to your question: yes, local churches should have staggered schedules.

    Some reasons to stagger would be to accommodate:

    1. Work schedules
    2. Accessibility (public transportation; snow/ice melt/removal; having more time between Masses in each location so that people with physical challenges don’t have to be as rushed by the logistics of between-Mass automotive ballet).
    3. The vagaries of climate control issues such as you listed
    4. Seasonal variations in seasons of high travel (early Sunday morning and Sunday evening Masses become more popular when people have to spend much of Sunday on the road)

    I went to the 8AM Mass for the first time at my parish of choice for the past year (I typically attend the 9:30, which features a very capable choir and music ministry) because there was a baptism at the 9:30 Mass and the pastor goes very long in his homiletics and last weekend the church was infernally hot (even with AC, it seemed) by the 80 minute mark. I was shocked (in a not unpleasant way) to find there was no sung music at this Mass; and now I know I have a relief valve for early Mass schedules (the parishes near where I live no longer omit music at their first Mass on Sunday, and the music is uniformly banal/mediocre at best to painful at worst – and it’s very clear that the powers that be in those parishes do NOT want to change their music, so I am not part of a solution they are not looking for). I certainly consider the music-free Mass on Sunday to be an anomaly, but I takes my relief where I can.

  2. Interesting post – I have heard about these things having been tried, but the problem is less the collections from what I was told, and more the desire of those offering the mass. Who wouldn’t want the 4pm? And who wants a 5:30pm? Ahem. That’s all I’ll say about that since it was hearsay.

    The parish where I worship has 7:30, 9, and 11 on Sunday. The 7:30am has the lowest attendance, but from what I am told, a very high collection. The regulars at that mass do not want music at all – and that has been made very clear. So, there is no music. I always find it disconcerting.

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