Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Ten Feet from Furious

Last night, I drove to one of my two mission parishes which are "attached" canonically to my assignment at Alva, OK to celebrate the vigil of the Immaculate Conception. The drive is about 26 miles one way, which is a vast improvement over my previous assignment at Woodward where one mission parish was 86 miles away, one way. I arrived about 20 minutes before Holy Mass and set everything up.

As the time for Mass approached, I noticed that no one was there. I could feel my anxiety creep up. Then I felt my anger rise. I began to compose a little diatribe to the parish. The gist of the message would be something like: "I was talking to some people just the other day who asked how the Archbishop decides which parishes would stay open and which ones would close if there were a shortage of priests. My response was, 'It's based upon how well they practice the Catholic Faith.' By not showing up for the Holy Day, you just moved yourselves to the short list." There would be some mollification for those who attended either there or one of the other nearby parishes, but it wouldn't have been pretty.

After Mass, I zipped over to the local gas station for a soda and spotted one of my parishioners there. We were chatting about the situation, and as she doesn't attend that mission, but rather the larger parish in Alva, she remarked, "That wasn't a very good turnout, was it?" I smiled and said, "You should have seen me fifteen minutes before Mass. No one was there, and I was ten feet from furious."

You have to understand that for a priest to go to a parish on a HOLY DAY OF OBLIGATION and get poor attendance is very disheartening. I mean, it's not like you are being asked to found a leper colony; you are making the bare minimum response to God's goodness by fulfilling this obligation. Have a lovely feast day.

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