On August 22, 2016, Bishop Jaime Soto issued a directive to consolidate the weekend Mass schedule of St. Katharine Drexel Parish so that one priest can manage it. Download the letter by clicking here.
In compliance with this directive, Fr. Larry formed a Pastoral Plan Ad-hoc Committee to help develop a plan. The committee submitted its recommendations to the Pastoral Council. After deliberation, the Council finalized two alternative Mass schedules, which Fr. Larry submitted to Bishop Soto on March 10. After a decision by Bishop Soto, implementation of the final plan is expected by July 1, 2017.
March 19, 2017
Sunday Mass Proposals Sent to Bishop Soto March 10: Transitioning to One Priest by July 1
As announced in the March 12 bulletin, the Pastoral Council completed its review of the two proposed Mass schedules with rationale, forwarded by the Ad-hoc Committee in December. After a close vote of 5-4-1 on the two schedules, Fr. Larry accepted them both and sent them to Bishop Soto on March 10 for his review and final decision.
Please note the second schedule was a recent addition which follows a discussion between Fr. Larry and Bishop Cotta on February 28 indicating Bishop Soto might be open to an interim schedule that allows for four Masses on a Sunday, one more than is allowed by the Diocesan Statutes.
Fr. Larry also included a review of our parish consultation process, which included in-pew surveys and post-Mass discussions along with annual opportunities for Masses at our churches that may not regularly have weekend Masses in the future.
Also as mentioned on March 12, the Parish Liturgy Committee is now forming an ad-hoc committee comprised of a few of its own members and at least one parishioner from each of our seven churches. Its goal is to prepare for the necessary steps to implement the new Mass schedule and, in particular, to ensure parishioners serving in liturgical ministries are given the opportunity to continue serving, if desired, at another church of our parish. If you would like to represent your local church on this committee, please contact Suzie Reynolds at the parish office or email her at email@example.com
A Personal Letter from Fr. Larry
As we now await the Bishop’s decision, let us pray we focus on our unity founded in our Lord: as his brothers and sisters of one faith, one baptism and God the Father of us. Let us respectively hold and respect each others opinions and feelings in our prayer and move forward in the love of our Lord which binds us together in charity as his people.
In response to questions asked by parishioners, Fr. Larry has developed a list of 'frequently asked questions.' Click here for the FAQ's. The 'Diocesan Statutes' referred to by Fr. Larry in his FAQ's are statutes of the Third Diocesan Synod and were promulgated in 2006. Download a copy of the statues here.
Mass and Communion Service: What's the Difference?
Some parishioners have informally proposed the idea of having “Communion Services” on Sundays at those churches where we cannot provide a priest in the future. Surely this desire comes from pure hearts and expresses a hunger for our Eucharistic Lord as well as a sincere devotion to the real presence of Christ. Thanks be to God!
However, as we proceed with the development of a parish plan for weekend Masses manageable by one priest, it might be instructive to reflect on the critical difference between the Mass and “Communion Services,” formerly called the “Rite for Distributing Holy Communion Outside Mass with a Celebration of the Word.”
What is the Mass? The Mass is the liturgical celebration of the sacrament of the Eucharist. Through it we participate in the saving sacrifice of Jesus. He offered himself on the cross so that we might have life. At Mass, we become present to that one perfect offering of Jesus on Calvary. In doing so we renew our covenant with Him.
This is what is obscured in Communion Services: the sacramental offering and sacrifice of ourselves in union with Christ to God our Father. Just before the Eucharistic Prayer begins the priest addresses the gathered faithful, “Pray brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.” All respond, “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.”
Unfortunately many Catholics are not aware of this amazing truth: the offering of our very lives are so valuable that they are united to Christ’s perfect sacrifice to God our Father. We are saved in and through Christ’s offering of Himself on the cross. Otherwise the Eucharistic Prayer can be seen as an action simply to consecrate hosts and, therefore, participation can be all about watching the priest and then receiving Holy Communion.
Other than the absence of the priest, this is the essential difference between Mass and a Communion Service. The latter is a service of sacramental communion, but is not the ritual participation in the sacrifice of Christ. In other words, the faithful gathered make no offering upon the altar. Instead, we eat the fruits of a sacrifice made by others at a prior Mass.
And this why Bishop Soto’s directive does not include an option for Communion Services, except perhaps at Silver Lake due to its remoteness. Church (Canon) law is clear that we have the obligation to attend Mass except for a “grave cause.” If our attendance is impossible then the obligation is removed. This can include advanced age, illness, the need to care for a sick relation or travel difficulties. Nobody is obliged to do the impossible. However, the church recommends, but does not oblige, that Catholics unable to attend Mass make holy the Day of the Lord in some other way, such as participating in a Communion Service, Eucharistic Adoration, following a televised Mass, or praying individually or communally the Liturgy of the Hours or from the Bible.
Please be assured the Parish Plan Ad-Hoc Committee and the Pastoral Council are striving the best we can to hear and address the needs of all of the people of our parish. Let us recommit ourselves to offering our lives in union with Christ as we celebrate the Mass. As St. Augustine preached long ago, “Therefore if you yourselves are the Body of Christ and his members, then your own mystery lies on the altar … Be what you see, and receive what you are.”