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Monday, July 29, 2019

Mass Times Announcement

After a couple years of thought, prayer, and discussion about the Sunday experience for our parishioners, I have decided that our parish needs to make a change in regards to the number of Masses on Sunday morning.  As pastor of the parish, I obviously want to be able to celebrate Mass for my parishioners, to be their shepherd and guide as God has called me to be.  However, due to restraints of Canon Law, I am not allowed to be celebrating more than three Masses on Sunday except in case of emergency.  I have been giving up one, sometimes two Masses on Sunday for the past three years, and it doesn’t feel right.  So, instead of three Masses on Sunday morning, we will be switching to two Masses, starting in September.  This will allow for me to be pastor to the whole parish every weekend, as well as still have the energy for the other events that occur on Sundays during the year, including religious education, RCIA, youth group, and other special events.  Often I am so drained that I cannot do it all, and it is important that I be part of these ministries as well.

With some discussion about what would be the best rearrangement, I am confident that our Sunday Mass schedule should be Masses at 9:00am, 11:30am, and 8pm.  But we want hard evidence to confirm that with a super-quick (two question) survey after Mass today in the back of church, to be sure that no Mass would be overflowing.  So please fill out the quick survey to help us estimate what Mass attendance would look like under this proposed schedule of 9, 11:30, and 8pm (and of course, Saturday at 5:30).  It is expected that the 9am Mass would include many but not all from the 8am crowd and many but not all of the 9:30 crowd, with some opting for other Mass times.

I understand this is not an easy change, and that is why I have thought long and patiently about it before discussing it with the Parish Leadership Team and the staff as a whole and ultimately coming to the decision we have now.  While it will certainly be a difficult change because it will mean a new Sunday morning routine and saying farewell to what we were used to (including perhaps our favorite seats and our pew neighbors!), we are excited about the various opportunities this change will offer us.

Along with the primary goal of better ministry of presence as your pastor, another benefit of the new schedule would be the extra time between Masses, allowing for other parish initiatives during that time.  Community functions such as coffee & donuts or a pancake breakfast could reach a larger crowd more easily, as well as a great potential for parish-wide talks, presentations, or adult education series.

One of the primary concerns was the Religious Education program, which due to this decision would be forced to start 30 minutes earlier, from 10-11:30. However, by keeping the 11:30am Mass, our new schedule allows for two options for families to attend Mass together with their children who are in Sunday school.  If the children are early birds (or families need a freer afternoon), the family could attend the 9am Mass and be done by 11:30am.  If extra rest is needed, they could come to class at 10am and then stay for the 11:30am Mass.  I believe this adjustment will end up allowing RE families to participate more fully in the parish life.

It will also be a benefit to have fuller Masses (without overflow) to create a stronger community within the parish, and to allow for less strain on the musicians and cantors, liturgical ministers, and Mass coordinators.  This should make the Sunday experience better for everyone with more lively liturgies, and allow our eyes to witness more fully the vitality of the parish community!

This month of August will include more updates and information as we approach the new schedule date of Sunday September 1st.  Please keep each other in your prayers that this will bring a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit for our parish!

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