If We Are Open to the Spirit, the Spirit Will Open Us!

Because we are losing a priest in our parish family, it will be no surprise to those connected to parish life through the bulletin and in homilies over the past six months that we also need to eliminate two Masses.

UPDATED JUNE 5, 2022

Beginning June 27, the new Weekday Mass schedule will be:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday: 8:30 AM
Tuesday & Thursday: 6:30 AM

Beginning July 2, the new Sunday Mass schedule will be:
Saturday: 5:30 PM
Sunday: 8:00 AM, 10:00 AM & 11:30 AM

 All Masses will be in the church.

Let me explain how parish leaders came to this Mass schedule and several of its strengths.

Just four years ago, we had seven Sunday Masses.  With the opening of St. Mary of the Assumption two years before, over 1000 families attended/registered at St. Mary, since it was much nearer their homes in Springboro.  We did not need seven Masses.

Therefore, three years ago, in response to reality, I asked pastoral council members to offer names of smart and well-respected parishioners to form a Mass time subcommittee.  That committee’s recommendation two years ago was accepted, and we eliminated the 9:30 AM and 11:00 AM Masses, moved the 9:00 AM to the PAC and in a counterintuitive move, added the experimental 5:00 PM Sunday evening Mass to try to serve youth and families better.

Mass Time Subcommittee

As Beacons of Light began several months ago, I called the Mass time subcommittee back together with the charge of preparing our parish family to move from three to two priests and to eliminate two more Masses.

The re-gathering of the Mass time subcommittee found them struggling to balance a number of important factors, including Beacons of Light guidelines.  As they presented their first recommendation to pastoral council, council asked them to re-convene and to offer a different recommendation based on a somewhat different hierarchy of values.  Their second recommendation is below.  They provided a well-reasoned and insightful rationale for their second recommendation, which can be found here: Mass Time Sub Committee Proposal I commend members of this committee for their work and good stewardship!

Mass Time Subcommittee Second Recommendation
Saturday: 5:30 PM
Sunday: 8:30 AM, 10:00 AM & 11:30 AM

Why 8:00 instead of 8:30?

The parish leadership team (PLT) considered their recommendation carefully and was very pleased with the recommendation.  At the same time the PLT suggested moving the 8:30 AM Mass time to 8:00 AM for the following reasons

  • St. Francis has an 8:30 Mass time. Duplicated Mass times do not encourage collaboration between our parishes, but fosters a mindset of separation.
  • Having different Mass times increases opportunities for parishioners to attend Mass; and encourages participation with our sister parish. While we want to encourage eliminated 9:00 Mass time parishioners to attend at Incarnation, we also recognize that the St. Francis 8:30 Mass time might be appealing to them, and that is ultimately a good.
  • The extra thirty minutes between the 8:00 and 10:00 allows the priest some down time for breakfast in the event one priest would need to preside at all three Sunday Masses at Incarnation.

Urgency

The Mass time subcommittee and some pastoral council members recommended that the Mass time change be effective in the late summer.

I disagree.  We will have one less priest in four weeks.  We have been talking about this for six months, knowing that we would be eliminating two Mass times.  We need to use the last few school communications effectively now before they end to resume in mid-August.

Therefore, the new Mass times will be effective the first weekend in July, when we go down to two priests.  We have four weeks to get word out.

Please see my bulletin article about those who attend the 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM Sunday night Masses.  They are to be commended for their generous spirit and their love for the Lord.  See that same article about how the PAC location is a blessing which we will have to mourn. We will be having a last Mass celebration for 9:00 parishioners at the end of June.

All Share in Sacrifice

Most growth in the Christian life comes from participation in the paschal mystery.  For example, when a husband and wife, sacrifice and die to self for the other, their love grows and they grow closer in unity with each other and Jesus.  The same is true in parish life, for individual parishioners and for the parish as a whole.

One of the most profound dimensions of this new Mass schedule is that most everyone is sacrificing.  The 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM Mass people are dying to self in a very profound way.  Most all parishioners will be touched by changes in Mass times.

Sacrifice is what we are about as Christians.  Pray we will participate in the paschal mystery with the same dignity and courage as Jesus, not crying out or being bitter or angry.

Subject to Change

I know that the New Mass schedule is an awesome one.  At the same time, it might need to be changed or flexed for good reason.  We will watch Mass attendance counts and listen to parishioner feedback to pastoral council members.  Truth be told, Incarnation probably only needs three Sunday Masses.

 

A New and Vibrant Church

Thanks in advance to parishioners who receive the burden of Mass time changes with trust and hope.  On this Pentecost Sunday, along with serious issues in our world, we face a serious decision about our attitude toward accepting Jesus and his cross through Mass time changes.  If we are open to the Spirit, the Spirit will open us.

We got this!!  Just as for Jesus and his cross, what seems to be unjust, a cause for fear and anger can actually become resurrection, a new and more vibrant Church!

Sincerely and with Love in Christ,

Fr. Pat

May 6, 2022

Access Fr. Pat’s Column for More Information on the Mass Time Changes

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