Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Friday, September 06, 2002

My Parish

My old parish, St. Luke's, is building a big new building next door to the old church. Next week is the last Mass in there. After that, it's all Mass in the school gym till the new church is completed.

It gives me a panicky, grieved feeling. The parking lot in front of the school is being turned into a church, the sports field out back of the school are being turned into a parking lot, the last vestiges of my childhood will soon be gone -- and nobody ever gave me or my parents (who still live in the parish) any kind of vote. If I liked those big roundy churches, I might be mollified a little. But I don't.

I suppose I shouldn't care. My parents stopped attending church at St. Luke's about two years ago and moved over to the tiny University Parish. (It's closer to their house, the priest is far more accessible and a good preacher, and the parish needs them as part of its life.) Dad and Mom, being relatively conservative folks, could deal with our old parish pastor's theology and morals sermons. They weren't bad, though occasionally Father would lecture us about parish politics that most of the congregation wasn't even vaguely involved in, or the importance of filing into the pews in his preferred manner. But Dad (he's a Methodist, but he's always gone to Mass with Mom as well as attending his own church on Sunday morning) stopped wanting to come when the pastor made people start praying for the money for the new church. Most people didn't want it; there wasn't even vaguely a consensus; and then to be made to pray for the new church instead of parish renewal like we were supposed to? Mom agreed with Dad that this was too much to take. So after being part of St. Luke's since her dad and mom moved out to Beavercreek in the sixties, my mom blithely left it and hasn't been back, not even for spaghetti dinners or pancake breakfasts.

I really shouldn't care. I tried to warn Father after Mass one day that the lack of consensus was dangerous and my parents were seriously thinking of heading for the hills over this. But he wouldn't listen, even when I said that part of it was that the parish loves the old church. We had just had it desecrated the year before and had to have Mass in the school gym until the church was reconsecrated. The parish rallied. People packed the gym. When the church was finally cleansed and blessed and opened again, it was even more packed. People who hadn't attended regularly in years came every week, and we took pride in our community and our church. Heck, I even came from across town and stayed with my parents overnight just to go to church in the evening.

All Father saw was that the church was packed every Mass, and the building was old. He saw a problem.

Well, it's not my problem any more. I go to St. Albert's and my parents go to Wright State, and it's not like I'll ever be moving back to Beavercreek. It's not a place I'd really want to live anymore -- all fakery and malls instead of woods and fields, like it was when I was a kid. I suppose the new building will work out somehow.

But I'll try to get to Mass before the end, if I can. I want to say goodbye to the most beautiful church in the world, in what was (for a brief and painful time) the best parish ever.


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