I was speaking to a bishop recently who was telling me about an experience he had at an area parish. He received a call on a Saturday afternoon from the pastor requesting weekend Mass coverage as he was being called away on an urgent family matter. Not having other obligations that weekend the bishop agreed to take care of the Masses himself.
There were two Saturday Vigil Masses and three Sunday morning Masses. The first Mass of the weekend was nowhere near half full. The second largely empty. This was also his experience the next day: the early and late Masses were ghost towns, the middle one, the largest of the weekend, was just about half full. Checking in with the pastor later, the bishop questioned him about this experience. The pastor assured him that such attendance patterns were entirely consistent for the parish. When asked why he would perpetuate such a schedule since, arguably, everyone coming to church could be accommodated at a single Mass, the pastor’s didn’t hesitate. “It’s the schedule we’ve always had. It’s what the people want.”
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