Parish concerns (letter)

Parish concerns (letter)

Peter Gilet

I am in a country parish in WA and for some years several things have been worrying me. I wonder if other readers share these concerns:

* During Mass some of the priests ad-lib little exhortations, one-line homilies and fatuous explanations of what they are doing. They start off by saying "good morning", which we all answer in chorus like a school class, and Mass is ended with a similar chummy remark.

* After Communion, at the most recollected part of the Mass, some priests make announcements, crack jokes, invite us all to the cup of tea afterwards, and so on. I have seen a birthday book which is borne aloft to the altar at the Offertory and whose birthdays are then read out. (Why not sing Happy Birthday as well?)

* There can be up to eight people around the sanctuary during Mass, few of whom are really necessary or even canonical.

* The tabernacle has been moved to a tiny side chapel which is invisible from all but those in the front pew. The red sanctuary light has been replaced with a yellow one.

* There is a lack of reverence, a secular spirit, an absence of content to the Mass. No-one really sings the hymns, so why not scrap them and simply sing the responses?

* The candles are fake plastic tubes that burn oil and there is no bell at the Consecration.

* We could easily have one Latin Mass on a weekday, each week. Why don't we? Many of us would attend.

* The bell outside the church is never rung. Are we afraid people might think we are religious?

* The life of the parish seems centred on generating money through the envelope collection, the rents from our property, and on capital works. We have a grossly expensive new church in the style of an airport departure lounge, an extension of the parish centre, and so on, but little real community or sharing.

The Catholic population of our town is small, aged, and steadily diminishing. Few young people attend with only two families with children present at our Mass. While there is much criticism of young people, the real loss of faith seems to be among the older parishioners, and perhaps even among some of the priests.

In my view, the first step in regenerating our faith would be to reform Sunday Mass along the lines suggested above - if it is not too late.

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