This is the manifesto written by the young priest concerning HIS plans for HIS parish. I personally think he was trying to do too much too quickly. I think too that the liberal, post Catholic types in the laity, a la Gov. Cuomo, objected to homilies that appeared political-- challenging their political allegiances especially to their sacrament of abortion.
Please note how many times he uses the pronoun "I" and the word "mine".
Opening Statement from Meeting at Our Lady of Peace Parish.
JANUARY 22 · PUBLIC
*Tonight at my parish was a meeting for folks to address their concerns about changes I have made. This is the statement I prepared so that folks could have in writing those decisions, and to curtail rumors*
Thank you all for meeting with me tonight to discuss the direction of Our Lady of Peace (OLP) parish. I want to let you know that I am hear to talk with you, and not at you. I realize that reading a written statement may not feel like that, but I have also learned that written statements reduce confusion, and increase clarity. In this statement I would like to address concerns about the direction of this parish that I have learned of in one way or another. The concerns are addressed in no particular order. I do not assume that this is an exhaustive list. After I finish, I would like us to have a respectful conversation about these matters.
The Why: As I mentioned in my homily for the Second Sunday of Advent this past year, the numbers in the Diocese of Saginaw are declining, and declining at a rapid rate. When we look around most parishes, we also see a lack of young adults attending. If we do not change to attract younger folks, parishes will continue to close, including ours. I’m on the border of GenX, and the Millennials, and work with the post-Millennials in campus ministry. Younger generations, overall, react very positively to more traditional, and more quiet worship. When my assignment to OLP was first made known, a handful of young adults in Bay City reached out to me with relative quickness. They simply asked how they could be of help to me. I told them that when I arrived, I would like to meet with as many young adult Christians as they could find who were willing to meet with me, and they did so. Several times over the summer I met with them on Midland street to discuss what they wanted to see, and what would help them evangelize. Without exception they all wanted to see more use of tradition, and clearer catechesis in preaching. They were all willing to help as well, so I began to use that help. The combination of declining numbers, few young Catholics, and the enthusiasm of that few for tradition is what is fueling my decisions to make changes.
Mass Times: I have discussed among the staff, and the parish council the possibility of moving the 10:30am Mass on Sundays to 11am. This would be done to offer Religious Education between the Masses. According to Genny, our Religious Ed. coordinator, this is quite popular among the parents of our students. She also states that other parishes that have done this have seen an increase of attendance at Mass, and in the classes. I am seriously considering this, and every mom and dad I have talked to about this said it would make religious education tremendously easier on their schedules. I have not made a decision yet, as the staff and I are trying to consider difficulties that may arise with this change. I can say, however, that I am strongly leaning to making this change after July 1rst. For this reason I will use the term “late Sunday Mass” throughout the remainder of the statement.
Overall direction of the liturgy: The major changes will take place at the late Sunday morning Masses. The Saturday evening Masses, and the early Sunday morning Masses will remain pretty similar to how they stand now in terms of music, and degree of solemnity.
Latin in the Liturgy: I do intend to use more Latin Mass parts (i.e. Angus Dei/Lamb of God, Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus/Holy Holy Holy). I will do so slowly, and with proper catechesis. This is in keeping with the call of Vatican II to preserve Latin in the liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concillium, 36.1), and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM, 41). This will be done at the late Sunday morning Mass over time. There will be less use of Latin Mass parts to the 4pm Sunday, and 8:30am Sunday Masses, and will not be used as frequently. My thoughts for those two Masses is to employ a small amount during Advent, and Lent. This would be something as simple as the Kyrie (Greek not Latin), and the Angus Dei, but nothing more.
The Pre-VCII Mass: This is otherwise known as the Tridentine Mass, or the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. I have no intention of offering this Mass at all in the near future. I do not know how to offer it, and I do not see a pastoral advantage to learning it at the moment. I have only been to three of these Masses in my life thus far. I have stated publicly that I do believe it would be advantageous of this diocese to permit this Mass somewhere on a weekly basis. I have also made it clear that I am not the one to offer it.
Ad Orientem Mass: The post-Vatican II Mass, or the Novus Ordo Mass, or the Ordinary Form of the Mass, may be offered Ad Orientem in which the priest faces the apse of the Church during various prayers. I do offer this from time to time at SVSU, and have since my rookie year, as the students react to it quite positively. This past Advent I offered it for the first time on a Sunday there, as the students had been asking, and took care of all I told them they needed to take care of for me to offer this Mass. I have no intention of offering Ad Orientem Mass at OLP. I am open to the idea of doing so, but that would need to be a ground up movement, and, if that were to happen, I would do so at the late Sunday morning Mass.
Music: I have hired Jason Payne to offer chant at all of our late Sunday morning Masses starting in July. An anonymous benefactor inquired as to how much this would cost. I gave him an estimate, and he stated he would pay for half of it. When I discussed the payment terms with Mr. Payne, he agreed to them. Other anonymous benefactors (a married couple) have since approached me, and are considering paying the other half. None of these benefactors are his future family-in-law who belong to this parish. I have hired him because of his unique talent, and professional training regarding ancient chant. This is not a slight to our current cantors, but an employment of an asset we can afford. Since his debut in Advent no less than five young adults have asked me about learning this chant. Younger Catholics have told me how much they enjoy that music, and look forward to its regular use. We will still employ the use of some hymns at those Masses, which may mean also having other cantors lead those hymns. The 4pm, and 8:30am Masses will not employ this chant.
I do want to purchase new hymnals, as I do not like spending the amount of money we spend every year on disposable ones. I am, however, going to take my time on this change. I am currently planning to purchase “Breaking Bread” for 2020 while I consider other options for the future.
Incense: Incense is another favorite among younger Catholics, but not just them. Older Catholics have told me how much they appreciate the smells of their childhood faith returning to the church. I anticipate using it quite frequently at our late Sunday morning Mass. I do not plan to use it with any frequency at the other Masses. On high feast days, however, I do plan to use it at all the Masses to add to greater solemnity, but this will depend if I have the servers to help or not. I am looking into hypoallergenic blends, and better coal. I am also looking into seating for those who may struggle with incense. As always, incense will be used at funerals.
Bells: I plan to use bells during the Eucharistic prayer for all the Masses, so long as we have the servers to do it. All the servers, old and young, seem to like this responsibility, and I want to encourage that enthusiasm. Like incense, many Catholics of older generations have told me how their use brings them joyful memories of their childhood in the Church.
Homilies: I have never preached about how to vote. I went out of my way to say that my homily was not about voting. I was preaching about our spiritual responsibility to fight against the evil of abortion. The closest thing I said to anything about voting is that we will be held accountable for how, and why we voted in the next life. The overarching point of my homily is that Christ is King over all matters: Church, state, and otherwise. I have the text of this homily.
I preached a homily about divorce, marriage, and annulments. I several times spoke that I was not preaching about anybody’s particular situation, and that if folks were in various situations, to talk to me one on one. I was preaching about what marriage, divorce, and annulments are. I have the text of this homily as well.
SVSU Students: I employed the use of SVSU students in large numbers for one Sunday in August. I did this because my predecessor’s time was not split between the parish and a campus ministry. I wanted folks in the parish to see the ministry that would be occupying a decent amount of my focus and time. There are two SVSU students who regularly serve at the altar at our parish. One is a 25 y/o Army veteran who is also a recent convert to Catholicism. He told me over the summer that he was feeling too old for campus ministry, and that he wanted to join a parish. I told him he was welcome at mine, and that other places would welcome him as well. He attended a few Masses over the summer, and was warmly embraced by several of our parishioners, so he know belongs to this parish. Another regular SVSU student-server is a young man who lives in Bay City, and commutes to SVSU for classes. It is simply better for his schedule most weekends to attend Mass here, and I’m not going to turn down his eagerness to serve.
In Conclusion: I am making major changes to one of our three Sunday Masses. I am doing so to embolden young Catholics, and reach out to traditional Catholics who have not felt as if they have had a home in a long time. The late Sunday morning Mass seems to have more young families attending, and I know there are young singles who are inviting their friends to it. The other two Masses on the weekends will not see the use of incense (except holy days), or chant.