An Interesting Sunday
Yesterday was my cousin Mark's birthday, and my parents invited me to spend the day over at their house beforehand. So my dad came over to pick me up after his church (we've gone over the bit where his side of the family are the Methodists, yes?) and I went to Wright State's university parish with them for Mass. (Don't tell the archbishop!)
I don't know if I've explicitly enthused about the university parish on this blog, so here's a good time for it. Father Chris is the kind of priest I wish we'd had at my university's parish. He's scholarly, fatherly, doesn't take himself too seriously, orthodox, active in good works, and good at getting everyone in the parish both to do things and to pray. He gives good homilies, too. He also always remembers to start Mass a few minutes late, which is an important feature in a college parish. (I'm quite serious about this!)
The parish itself is very interesting, as it has a tiny little building right in the middle of campus on a parcel of land actually belonging to the archdiocese instead of the university. This was donated by the folks who originally owned the land, back when the church was on the back end of Wright State's campus...which wasn't so many years ago. IIRC, the parish voluntarily allows its building to be used by campus ministry for offices, but not for services. (There's a wonderfully large poster in the front window giving all the various religions' service times and places.) The building is one of those little buildings was the seventies that looked like tiny Swiss chalets. This has its disads, but the high pointy ceiling does make for good acoustics. The offices are in the back half of the building, both upstairs and down.
The congregation is as varied as you'd expect from a state university like WSU, and has included people from just about every nation you could ask for. Then there's folks like my mom and dad and other folks who live close to the university and like the close community. The only problem is that the building is so small that it's hard to fit everyone in. The original land donors have a bigger patch of land available for the purpose, and there's plenty of interested alumni who are interested in helping the cause. But it can't be done without the archbishop's permission.
There's been a lot of petitioning of the archbishop, but since there are other parishes in driving distance, he doesn't want a bigger church built. Even though Wright State is getting bigger and bigger. Even though it's become more of a residential university than a commuter one. Even though more and more Catholics are attending, and a lot of foreign and residential students don't have cars.
Yes, St. Luke's is ten minutes away by car. Yes, that Fairborn parish is fifteen minutes away by car. Do you know how long it takes to bike to St. Luke's from Wright State? Half an hour to forty-five minutes. Do you know how long it takes to walk? An hour and a half at least. And while I have in fact negotiated the roads to Fairborn from the back of Wright State on a bike, including crossing the two-lane highway, I don't really recommend it as good for your health...and it takes almost two hours on a bike. It's a far better option to take the bus downtown, which runs every hour, takes only half an hour to get there, and is far warmer in winter. Of course, the bus only started running on Sundays this year and the archbishop rejected the new building last year...but let's be thankful for small blessings for the students.
Anyway, back to the subject. I went to Mass there with my parents and got asked to do the first reading. I was very happy to oblige, especially since it was the story of Abraham bargaining with God for the survival of Sodom. How can you not love to tell a story like that? It's got everything: dramatic tension, daring, mutual love and respect. And doing a reading like that is one of the few legitimate ways to play God!