Things I Love About My Parish

In the past year we’ve attended Mass at four different Catholic parishes in our area besides our home parish.  We’ve been to churches ranging in age from over 100-years-old to three-years-old.  Along with the kids we’ve compared and contrasted the architecture, the music, and other slight differences, and we’ve concluded that there is no place like “home”.  Instead of focusing on what we didn’t like about this parish or that parish, I decided to focus on what I love about our home parish…in no particular order.

1.  The Priests:  We are blessed to have two wonderful priests assigned to our parish.  Father David is so kind and understanding.  He’s the sort that you could never imagine getting angry with someone.  He runs the parish with cool competence.  His homilies are short and to the point, and he has a great sense of humor.  Father Marek seems a little more no-nonsense, but he still has a great sense of humor if more dry.  His homilies are more likely to be steeped in history and are intellectually satisfying.  I love to hear his stories from his childhood in Poland.

2.  The Music:  It’s not traditional in the “everything chanted in Latin” sense, but it’s traditional in the type of music I grew up hearing in church.  It’s not Christian pop nor does it seem like James Taylor has taken over as music director.  Every song uses the piano or organ.  Very often flutes and recorders are also used.  Sometimes you can even hear the subtle use of guitar and drum kit.  The choir is also really good.

3.  Communion in Both Forms:  I’m surprised by how many parishes do not offer the Precious Blood on a regular basis, but our parish always does.  They didn’t even back down when swine flu first became a big deal.

4.  Blessings and Bulletins:  Our parish offers blessings during Communion for children, non-Catholics, and anyone else unable to receive Communion.  The girls really look forward to this.  Our parish also offers special bulletins at the end of every Mass with coloring pages and activities based on the Gospel readings.  It’s so sweet to watch all of the children go up to the altar to receive them from the priest, deacon, and altar servers.  Even Katie has started going up with her sisters.

5. The Crucifix:  Our parish has a huge crucifix that hangs from the ceiling just slightly ahead of the altar.  The first time I saw it I was little unsure that it really needed to be placed so high or so huge.  But now I find it very humbling to see Christ raised so high above me.

6.  The Bells:  I know that ringing the little bells during the consecration is no longer necessary in this day of speaker systems; everyone can easily keep track of when it’s happening.  But I love the bells, and I’m glad my parish uses them.  They make the big moment seem so much more special.  And they also usually help distract feisty or fussy little ones, at least temporarily.

7.  Project Gabriel:  This program helps women of any faith, ethnic background, or marital status who feel pressured to get an abortion.  The volunteers work to arrange new homes for those who need them, transportation to doctor visits, maternity and baby supplies, postpartum care, and anything else that these mothers need to keep and support their babies.  Although, I am limited to donating supplies at the moment (mainly diapers), I love that my parish has such a proactive support program to fight the evil of abortion.

8.  Stain-Glassed Windows:  I remember what a big deal it was when my childhood parish finally was able to get stain-glassed windows.  I fell in love with them immediately.  I was so pleased the first time I walked into my local parish and saw the Seven Sacraments represented in the glass.  It is something that I have learned not to take for granted.

8.  Community:  It probably helped that we were “baptized” into the community through the RCIA program; it allowed us to quickly get to know the priests and deacons as well as other members of the parish quickly.  And because the church is in our local community we started seeing people that we knew or recognized from other aspects of our life, like tee-ball or even the library.  We’ve had a few older couples complement us on our beautiful family or offer us encouragement at those times when the girls have acted less than stellar.  And we’ve begun to recognize the same families there with us week after week even if we’ve yet to learn their names.  Even though we haven’t been able to get as involved with the parish as we hope to do someday, it is so nice to see friendly faces every week who smile and wave to us or come up to offer a hug and a chat after Mass.  It has made us feel more at home than anything else since we moved up here six years ago.

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