This year we’ve reimagined just about everything our church does, from the way we worship to the way we work. The disruption has created many problems, but our team has been there with creative solutions, many of which will become permanent even after Covid fades away. But the most daunting challenge of reinvention comes now, as we start preparations for our very favorite event of the year, Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve has also been our biggest night of the year every year, and every year it gets bigger. In 2019 we had upwards of 11,000 people, probably the largest Christmas Eve Mass in the country. Besides the sheer numbers, Christmas Eve at the ‘Cow Palace’ has become a true Christmastime tradition for many families in our community, marking the Nativity of the Lord with joy.
When it came to making plans for this year, the two main questions we needed to answer were where and when.
As for the where, you will probably not be surprised to learn that gathering in the kinds of numbers we have in the past will be impractical if not impossible, so we will not be going back to the Fairgrounds this year. Hopefully that is a tradition we can revive for Christmas 2021.
We will be offering Masses on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day here at church that you can attend in person but we expect that almost all of our ‘attendees’ will be joining us online.
This was a difficult decision, but we’re sure it’s the right one. We can probably safely assume that in December we will still be restricted in our seating capacity, currently at 33%. And we’re certain that would not even begin to accommodate the demand, potentially shutting out thousands of parishioners. And that would not feel right on Christmas Eve.
We will be broadcasting what is shaping up to be a spectacular Christmas Eve Mass at 4 pm, complete with all the beautiful music and decorations and Christmas traditions you’ve come to expect. In addition, we will be rebroadcasting the Mass throughout the evening if that time doesn’t work for your family, creating flexibility for the when.
And we will be encouraging you to start thinking now about hosting a “watch party” for the evening. What’s that? It’s simple really. It’s about inviting unchurched family and friends to join you for Mass in your living room or whereever you’re going to be that evening.
Who can you invite?
- Maybe you already plan to be with family or friends and you can start your evening with our Mass.
- Maybe you know a neighbor who will be alone.
- Maybe you just gather your household members to celebrate all in one place.
Together we could create the “Ultimate Watch Party” with thousands worshiping together, at the same time, all over the community as well as far afield.
If you think about it, this Christmas Eve could be our biggest ever.