Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Our Fall Mass Schedule

One of the things that we continually look at as a parish is ways we can improve ministries for everyone and encourage people to live out their faith. To do this, we have to look at our resources, and also at the question of what will be the best fit for our parish.

The most important things that happen at any parish are the sacraments, in particular the celebration of the Mass on weekends. It is here that the community comes together.

I have to say, I really love our liturgies at Saint Joe’s. Sometimes as a priest you hear stories of things that need adjusting liturgically in that a parish isn’t following the instructions for Mass given to it by the universal Church, or has developed odd traditions that have become a problem, but not so at Saint Joe’s. I find our music uplifting, the lectors do a great job proclaiming the Word, and that we all come together to truly create a vibrant liturgy that lifts the soul closer to God. It’s a joy to offer Mass here, and Bill Bradley has done such a great job that he gives meaning to that old saying “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” With Bill and our worship commission, we do look at ways to always enhance worship or try new things, but our worship experience is extremely positive.

However with the experience, we also want as many people as possible to experience it. So a question for the priest is to also consider not just the content of the Mass and how it is celebrated, but when too.

With that in mind, one of the things I have been considering for some time is our liturgy schedule, and making a slight adjustment.

Specifically, we will be moving the 6 p.m. Mass on Sunday night, to an early Mass on Sunday morning at 7 a.m., starting the weekend of September 9th & 10th. This decision was made after consulting with some of our parish staff, trustees and also the parish council at large. I approached them over the summer, wanting to make this change for fall.

There are a few reasons for this change.

First is attendance. We do Mass counts at each Mass, and we have consistently found that the Sunday night Mass is about a third of the attendance at the other 3 Masses. While this would be fine if this Mass catered to a specific group (e.g., a “youth” Mass), it does not.

Second, we also consider the Mass schedules at nearby parishes. Saint John Neumann, about a 5 minute drive from our parish, has a 6 p.m. Sunday evening Mass. Saint Thomas Beckett, which is also 5 minutes from Saint Joe’s, has a 5 p.m. Sunday evening Mass. Finally Risen Savior also has a Sunday evening Mass October through April. However neither one of these parishes have an early Mass – the earliest offered is

8 a.m. Some people do have a lot of activities going on on Sundays in their family, so this would give people an option who would like to start their day early.

Third, we each have different worship styles, meaning our prayer experiences that are most impactful differ based on the individual. With that in mind, what will be a little unique about the 7 a.m. Mass is it will be more quiet. Other parishes have a Mass on Sundays that do not have singing. While this will also make the 7 a.m. Mass shorter, it will also make it unique for those who prefer more quiet at Mass.

Lastly, for years our parish has had a retired priest assist on weekends. Unfortunately Fr. Bob’s recovery from surgery has not gone as expected, and there are currently no plans for a second priest. Though I am admittedly more of a night person than morning person, having the 3 masses closer together will also help me personally to have a lot more energy for all of them.

While I know some people really do enjoy the 6 p.m. Mass, I really do think this will be a positive change for our parish.  Please remember the new schedule will start the weekend of September 9th & 10th.  Thank you for your support for our parish and for living out your faith by coming to Mass.

Have a blessed week!

Fr. Paul