Knowing the Priest

I wrote earlier this week about how I’ve become enmeshed in my new parish over the course of about six weekend Masses. The past few weeks I’ve been attending another parish while visiting my brother at his new home in the Catskills for the holidays. I’ve been to their local parish now for five Masses now – three weekend and two Holyday. There are some things I’ve gleaned just by being present – but there are a few things I wish they had more information about online or in the bulletin – or even stated in the before Mass announcements.

The first is how their parking lot works and where to park. This seems so simple, but the flow is something I’ve only ever experienced at the parish across town in my hometown. There aren’t parking spots, and everyone flows around the building to park. It’s unique and a guide for visitors would be helpful.

Another direction that would have been useful before Mass was an outline of their Covid-19 procedures. When we’ll be receiving communion (after Mass, except on Christmas) and the flow to allow for social distancing. Even a word before Mass would have been helpful for those of us who were visiting.

Finally, an introduction to the priests. My old parish used to do this years ago and my parent’s parish still does: at the end of the before Mass announcements, the reader says, “The celebrant for today’s Mass is Father Joe.” While I’ve always found this to be a little odd as an attendee who knows the priests of my parish, after my experience these past few weeks I’m wondering how anyone ever figures out their priest’s names if they aren’t announced.

Is it important? It’s not “mission critical” – but I do think it’s important. The fastest and easiest way I’ve been able to enmesh myself with a new parish is by getting to know the priests. I’ve been blessed to either have worked at the parish when the new priest was assigned or been working there as a new parishioner. Even with my new parish, the priest is a son of my old parish – I know his parents from daily Mass.

Knowing someone’s name helps us connect to them. I’ve found that it’s the fastest, easiest way to make a connection with another person. I know one of the most fundamental things about them – who they are. I have on regret from my three-week stint as a visitor to St. Peter’s here in the Catskills – I have no idea who the priests are.

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