Sunday, November 13, 2011

Finding a Parish Home, Redux

The Church of Saint Jerome in East Rochester, NY may be it. I wrote about my initial struggles almost three months ago — Finding a Parish Home. "Why don't you just go to your territorial parish?" scolded commenter M.Z. "And why are you bragging about your inability to put up with the people around you? I thought the whole point of moving to a small town was to be with people and be endeared by their ideosyncracies."

M.Z. probably would have been more sympathetic had I mentioned the parish was about as WASPy as a Catholic parish can get. Indeed, her Novus Ordo Missae was identical to what you might expect at any Mainline Protestant Sunday service, only probably a tad worse.

In contrast St. Jerome's, in a working-class neighborhood a full half-mile closer to the home I'll be moving into with my extended family, is ethnic. Poles, Italians, and Irish may not count anymore as ethnic by the official census-takers, but the small Nuyorican presence surely would. What matters is that the Sacrifice of the Mass was devoid of pretension. No piano. No Broadway-style show tunes for the Eucharistic Prayers.

They used the organ. There was some chanting. Even two words of Latin, "Mysterium fidei," found their way in, spoken by the elderly Italian priest, who was the spitting image of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Speaking of whom, even Dorothy Day was mentioned in the deacon's homily! The hymns of Marty Haugen, however, were painfully present.

I never did make it to St. Josaphat's Ukrainian Catholic Church for the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom or St. Stanislaus Kostka Church for the Traditional Latin Mass, but this humble, shrinking, graying parish dedicated to St. Jerome looks like she'll make a good home for us.

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3 Comments:

Blogger M.Z. said...

Good for you.

Unfortunately what you said about being WASPy wasn't shocking to me. The American Church (Catholic or otherwise) is a bourgeois expression in self affirmation. That you have seemingly found a remnant that isn't this is good news. There are no poor people in the churches, and today left me little wonder why. I think I have come to understand how the communists and their sympathizers came to understand the priests and the Church as one with the bourgeoisie. Sorry if this sounds like a guy with one foot out the door, because that isn't quite the case. I simply have lost faith in the Church's leaders, and I really can't stand the bourgeoisie and their piety. Our parish and thousands like it are talking about buying cheap Chinese junk for the poor for the sectarian holiday otherwise known as Christmas at the same time they are billing poor families from $180 to $400 for religious education. What kind of sick joke is that? It is so bad that they actually hunt out to find families to help buy Chinese junk for, but they don't give a second thought to why there are so few poor people in the RE program who are poor. It is a fucking tragedy if some 10-year-old boy doesn't find $30 worth of plastic under the tree. The sacraments are business.

Understand that my criticism at the time was just for you to man up and accept that your concerns had nothing to do with faith. I don't say that to be mean. People in this country worship at the altar of choice, as if God's greatest concern were the use of lace and Latin rather than a church's treatment of the poor and widows. The society we live in is worse than any felt banner, hand holding Our Father mass you could go to. If walking around doesn't rip your heart out, then there is something wrong with you or you (the general, not the specific) have closed yourself off and chosen not to see it anymore. In the midst of this, concerns over lace and Latin should not be given any more privilege than the complaints over the local theatre troupe.

Sorry for the long rant, but I figured you were deserving of a reply. Being a rant, most of it wasn't even really directed toward you, but what can I say? I'm not a saint.

November 13, 2011 at 11:58 PM  
Blogger love the girls said...

I wouldn't go to my local parish because it is working class, and thus I have very little in common with them on a social level.

A parish is more than the mass, it's the society where my children will find their friends who will also be a part of their formation.

As for parishes being blind to the hardship of those under their own roof, well, welcome to the world. and get used to it because it's not going away. My favorite book on the subject is Pollyanna

November 15, 2011 at 12:16 AM  
Blogger Joe Koczera, S.J. said...

I never did make it to St. Josaphat's Ukrainian Catholic Church for the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom or St. Stanislaus Kostka Church for the Traditional Latin Mass...

It's great that you've found a parish you're comfortable with, but I hope you do eventually get to one or both of those other places for a visit - I suspect that your impressions as a first-timer would be worth reading.

November 16, 2011 at 11:34 PM  

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