A message from Father Hathaway about the children’s Mass
As you know, due to recent necessary renovations, we have not been able to celebrate the Children’s Mass in the St. Mary school gym during the month of September. The gym Mass has been an important part of our parish as it allows families with small children an opportunity to attend Mass together where they might otherwise be met with some difficulty in the Basilica due to the lack of a cry room and only one restroom.
Since a full month has gone by without Mass in the gym, I have noticed a couple things. First, how good it is to have our entire parish family united under one roof in the Basilica. It was always less than desirable to have the clergy, volunteers and various liturgical ministers spread out over two locations. I know it was sometimes frustrating if you attended a Mass and hoped to speak to a particular priest afterward only to find out he was off campus. For most, the Sunday Mass is their only interaction with clergy.
In the last month, while attendance is healthy and charitable giving is up, none of our seven Sunday Masses (Vigil included) held in the Basilica have been uncomfortably crowded. That being said, I am also very sensitive to the desire to have a suitable place for small children to be able to participate in the Liturgy in a way that is engaging to them and in an environment that meets their needs.
That is why beginning on November 4, we will start a new format for our parish children in the Basilica to replace the Sunday morning Mass in the gym. We now will be offering a homily geared toward younger children at the 8:30 a.m. Sunday Mass in the Basilica. We would like to have youth readers and choir, plus a donut social monthly in the parish courtyard. Age-appropriate child care for young toddlers who can’t quite make it through the Mass will be offered at the Lyceum for families who attend the 8:30 a.m. Mass. The trained and VIRTUS-compliant volunteers/staff will be assisted by the clergy to help make the Gospel message for that Sunday really come alive for them. We hope to have Gospel-thematic games, crafts and songs with movement, all at their appropriate developmental level.
I hope this will provide the best of both situations and allow us to worship God in the sacred space of the Basilica as one family, while also meeting the real and important needs of families with young children and allowing them to attend Mass together surrounded by their parish family. While there may be a few early bumps in the road, I hope we will all be able to welcome our parish families with young children into the Basilica for the glory of God.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Edward Hathaway