When I was in high school, my small town started the LifeTeen Program for 9th and 10th grade students preparing for Confirmation in 11th grade. The best part of this program was the new Sunday evening Mass that was celebrated right before. As a teen who had to get up early for school every day, finally being able to sleep in on Sundays was my dream! My family would go to morning Mass then drive me out to this other parish for the evening Mass and LifeTeen afterward. Then they’d pick me up at 8, and we’d go home and eat homemade pizza!
When I went to college, I most often attended the 9:30pm Sunday Mass offered by the monks through campus ministry in the student Chapel. I continued to love those sleepy Sundays! Much of my 20s, I followed the same pattern as I was a youth minister with a program that began right after the Sunday evening Mass we asked the teens to attend together. Even after I left youth ministry (but really, does one ever leave youth ministry?), I continued my sleepy Sunday mornings, Mass on Sunday evening routine until one fateful day…
As the Office Manager I was in charge of getting the donuts for a few weeks because the volunteer coordinator was out of town. So I got up super early, drove to pick up donuts, delivered them, and went to Mass since I was already there. Donuts can make us all do some powerful things! It seems silly to say, but it changed my life and I am now a Sunday morning Mass person almost every weekend.
So when I saw this article the other day from The Deacon’s Bench about how surprised one parish was about “the popularity of Sunday evening Masses” I thought, “well, of course it’s popular!”
I live in the south and Sunday evening Masses (last chance Masses as they are sometimes known) are a dime a dozen. Almost every parish in the Charlotte-metro area has one. But I know that isn’t true everywhere.
One of the Churches I’m working on a Parish Vision Plan made one of their milestones to “Add a Sunday evening Mass before Religious Education and Confirmation classes.” The first weekend 45 people came. What a great start! [That parish’s average weekend Mass attendance is between 400 and 500 each weekend.] Each week it continues to grow.
On our survey we ask respondents why they prefer their preferred Mass time and the answer is most consistently “it’s convenient for us.” Because we all have different schedules, what’s convenient is different. Some people like to rise with the Sun and attend Mass before moving on with the rest of their day. Some people like the opportunity to sleep in one day a week and prefer the vigil on Saturday night or the Sunday evening Mass. Some people love donuts so they go to the Mass where they’re served afterward.
No matter the reason, having a regular Sunday Mass time that is part of your routine and is scheduled in to the other things happening on these two very packed days is vital! I’m not recommending that we cater to every person’s personal preference, but I am suggesting that when scheduling your Mass times you consider the needs of your community. It might be time to re-evaluate your schedule, with enough notice anyone can get used to a new Mass times – especially if donuts are involved afterward!
What works about your parish’s Mass schedule? Have you adjusted based on the needs of your community? How was it received?