When Things Change – New Mass Schedule

When Things Change – Our New Mass Schedule

I see my nieces and nephews rather frequently. Becaus

Change, Same Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

e of this, it is sometimes hard for me to notice how much they have grown and matured. It’s only when I look back at a photo from a few years ago that I am keenly aware of the changes that have occurred. At other times, one of them might say or do something that gives me a sense of how far they have matured in their emotional development.
Somewhere deep in my heart, there is a place where nothing ever changes. It’s in this world that my nieces and nephews are perpetually five years old and they will always remain the same. But sometimes I get a sense of how much they have grown and matured and I find myself having to reconcile my heart’s image of them with reality.

This dynamic of perceiving things are always the same can play itself out in other areas of our lives as well, whether at work, in relationships or even in our experience of Saint Andrew Parish. Whether we are lifelong parishioners or whether have been here for just a few years, it can at times be difficult to notice the changes that have been taking place. I’d like to draw your attention to two of them.

One change has been the decrease in attendance at Sunday Masses. It’s not a change that is unique to Saint Andrew. Currently we average around 750 people attending the five Masses we have on a weekend. Just a few years ago we were averaging 875. Studies have been done which point to various reasons for the decline in Mass attendance across the country. While there are various factors that a parish may have some control over to improve attendance, there are others where it has little or no control, such as the prevailing culture that increasingly does not place a value on religious practices.

The second change has taken place over the last few months. For the first time, probably since the first years of our parish’s history, Saint Andrew has only one full-time priest assigned to the parish. While we do have the assistance of our resident priests, Fr. Arlin and Fr. Agustin, and the weekend help provided by Fr. Alec and Fr. Ted, there are times when they are unavailable to help with sacramental needs. For example, Fr. Arlin is a chaplain at Presence St Joseph Hospital and is often on call. Fr. Agustin is away this summer doing mission appeals for his diocese. Fr. Alec occasionally is away at a conference or in another country helping a diocese with their canonical affairs. I am grateful for the assistance Deacon Eric provides, but as a deacon he is not able to say Mass, hear confessions or anoint the sick.
Combined, these two changes require us to make some adaptations to our Mass schedule. For the Sunday Masses, all will remain the same, except for the 11:30am Mass. In the past, we have suspended this Mass just for the summer months. In our new Mass schedule, the 11:30 am Mass will be suspended indefinitely. We will continue to have the 4:00 pm Vigil Mass on Saturday, and the 8:00 am, 10:00 am and 5:30 pm Masses on Sunday.

In the weekday Mass schedule, there will make two alterations. We will no longer have an 8:00 am Mass on Saturday mornings. This is in part due to the other scheduled sacramental work expected of a priest on Saturday. Secondly, we will be changing the morning Mass time for most weekday Masses. On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, we will celebrate Mass at 8:00 am instead of 9:00 am. On Wednesday the Mass will remain at 9:00 am to accommodate the all school Mass. This new Mass schedule will take effect the week of August 27th, 2017.

The adaptation of the Mass schedule is not merely a reaction to the changes I mentioned above. We are making these adaptations in hopes of advancing our experience of the Mass. When 750 people attending Masses on a weekend in a church that seats 650 people, it means there are some Masses where there are less than 100 people in attendance. This makes it hard to visualize and experience a sense of community and our identity as members of the Body of Christ when only a few people are in a large church. The change to the 8:00 am Masses during the week will make it possible for people who work downtown and/or parents dropping off their children at school to attend daily Mass.

In addition to the changes to the Mass schedule, we will be working on other improvements to other areas of the liturgy in the near future. More information will be made available throughout the year.

I am sorry for the inconvenience that the new Mass schedule may cause to some of our parishioners. As I studied the results of our Mass survey and prayed for guidance from the Holy Spirit, I found this to be the most difficult decision I’ve had to make as a pastor, even more difficult than budgetary ones. Please pray for an increase of vocations to the priesthood. Every year around 30 priests retire, die or leave the priesthood, with only 5 to 12 being ordained to replace them. We need more good priests. Please encourage someone to consider priesthood as a vocation.
-Fr. Sergio Romo

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