I went to the 5 o’clock mass Saturday evening at Holy Name of Mary and incredibly when I walked through the doors the church didn’t come crashing down around me, pigs didn’t fly and hell did not freeze over! Unbelievable!
We were there to watch my granddaughter make her first Holy Communion and we were sitting front and center so we could have a good view. She looked like a little angel dressed in her white, ruffly dress. She’s growing up so fast, all my grandkids are. Can you believe it was only the second time I’ve ever set foot in the new church? You see I was perfectly content with the old church and abhorred the way in which the pastor and his groupies rallied parishioners
away from the idea of remodeling the old church, and got them to buy in to his ‘Build the Dream’ scheme to tear down the existing church, auditorium and teen center and build a brand new church. I swore I’d never set foot in the new one.
Well as we all know time heals old wounds. Last year I broke down and agreed to attend Easter mass at the new church with the family. On that occasion we didn’t actually make it inside for mass. It was over-crowded with all the holiday Catholics, you know the ones that come out every Christmas and Easter, and we ended up standing outside and listening to the mass on a speaker system. After mass I did however go in and poke around a bit. It is a very beautiful church. It looks gigantic from the outside and very spacious inside, but the actual seating arrangement is roomier and doesn’t really appear to hold that many more worshippers than the old row after row of closely set pews that the old church had. I guess part of the dream was really just to have a more elegantly styled building with more comfortable seats and plenty of leg room. Yeah it’s humungous and actually been dubbed the ‘monstrosity’ by some, I still believe our old church was quaint and warm and could have been remodeled and enlarged at a fraction of what was paid for the new church.
Can you tell I’m still a bit upset about it all? I just didn’t care for the way the whole thing went down. For quite awhile there had been talk about a new church, some parishioners were for it, others against. Then one day we’re at mass and suddenly all the people standing in the vestibule of the church were crowded into the church by a number of ushers and the doors were closed. All the ushers were wearing tee shirts with the phrase “Build the Dream,” on them. Father Tom, the pastor and lead dreamer then took the pulpit and for the next half hour or so began to sell the dream, keying in on need, responsibility and commitment.
At some point the ushers began distributing pledge cards and pencils to everyone and the fun really started. Father Tom began pushing and pleading for pledges of $5000 or more with payment plans of three to five years. I swear for awhile there I felt like I was being sweated by an ace car salesman. The church is no place for that kind of pressure. I know I wasn’t the only who was upset. You could see it on the faces of several parishioners. It was all I could do to not get up and leave. I remember writing “save our church” on my card and “I’ll make a pledge to a remodeled church.” That was the last time I attended mass at HNM until last Easter.
A few months later Tom’s Marauder’s began making their way to the homes of all the parishioners who had failed to make a pledge. Rumor had it that they were going into homes and taking stock of your furnishings and possessions to evaluate what you could afford to pledge. I don’t know if there was any truth to the rumor or not, but when they came to my home they were turned away with a polite “No thank you, I’d rather we remodel the church we have.” Well in time and with much added expense the dream was finally realized, but it caused much division among the parish. The HNM community was never the same again. The responsible pastor is long gone, Thank God, removed from his post because of his blatant arrogance. Leaving us with a colossal piece of architecture when all we needed is a church, no auditorium and no teen center, but I’m sure another dream is in the works. I only hope that they handle it with more class than the last time. I’m pretty certain they will.
I have to tell you, it actually felt pretty good attending mass Saturday night. The sermon was relevant, meaningful and thought provoking. The priest really said a good mass, sort of the equivalent of a pitcher throwing a good game. The kneeling part was a bit bothersome on my old knees, but otherwise an hour well spent. I kinda hope this mass was the first of many to come, a new beginning. I suppose that’s entirely up to me. Guess we’ll have to wait and see…