Just as the pastor of the parish relies on the Parish Council and Finance Council for direction, so too the bishop of the diocese relies on several bodies for advice and direction in his ministry to the people of the church entrusted to him. One body that the bishop relies on is the Presbyteral Council, a council of priests appointed by the bishop, elected and ex officio.
At a recent Presbyteral Council meeting, concerns were raised about certain matters regarding the spiritual welfare of the priests and people of our Diocese, including the liturgical life in our parishes, and the number of Masses celebrated at each parish.
It was recommended to Bishop Malone that a task force begin a comprehensive study and research of our parish weekend Mass schedules. Of great importance is the spiritual and physical health of our priests and the vibrant celebration of the Eucharist in all our parishes. The task force will be reviewing the Mass schedules to assure that parishes have the appropriate number of weekend Masses. The research will include an emphasis on strengthening the prayerful celebration of the Eucharist.
This study will include measuring the seating capacity in churches and counting Mass attendance for 3 consecutive weeks: April 15, 22 and 29. This is something we do each week already so our statistics are readily available. However, it is recommended that we count the number of people attending Mass these weekends at St. Michael’s Church and for St. Michael’s Church to count the number of Mass attendees at St. Louis. Therefore, I will be in contact with Father Ben Fiore, SJ, the pastor of St. Michael’s Church to coordinate our efforts.
As you know, several years ago we consolidated our schedule of Masses so that one priest could take care of the whole weekend. The goal of this is to ensure that with a declining number of priests, we should not expect priests to celebrate more liturgies on a weekend than are needed and to encourage more vibrant celebration of the Eucharist.