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King's Korner - May 12, 2013
Question: How many Masses are you (or any priest) allowed to say on a weekend?
Answer: By Canon Law (that’s the rules for governance of the Catholic Church) the priest is not supposed to celebrate/preside at more than three Masses on a weekend in addition to any weddings or funerals. Personally, I have been presiding at four Masses on most weekends, as have a number of other priests in our diocese (and elsewhere I’m sure) due to a variety of circumstances. Here at St. Patrick Parish I have been doing so primarily for economic reasons, in other words, to save the parish some money because as you know we have a very tight budget. In addition, it is not always easy to find a priest (most are retired) from Grand Rapids, or even further away within our diocese, to come and preside at one Mass, when they have opportunities to preside at two or more Masses on a weekend at parishes much closer to where they live. Again, for economic reasons, I have resisted having a priest come for two Masses on a weekend unless it was absolutely necessary.
You should also know that Bishop Hurley has been after me to cut down to three Masses, even asking me on more than one occasion if the parish could get by with three Masses on a weekend instead of four. The Bishop really is concerned about the health of aging priests in our diocese – and I just happen to be one of those aging priests.
Bishop Hurley has had all parishes in the diocese do a “head count” on one or two weekends in the Fall for the past several years in an effort to see what the attendance is. The general rule is that if the attendance at any Mass fills less than half of the church, and that number of people could fit into another Mass, then one Mass should be eliminated. In talking with Deacon Don, we both feel that current Mass attendance here at St. Patrick is sufficient at this time to warrant having four Masses.
However, in an effort to comply more closely with the Bishop’s request, I am attempting to somewhat regularly have a priest come and preside at one of the weekend Masses here at St. Patrick. I have made arrangements with Fr. Doug Osborn, a retired priest who lives at the DeWitt Retreat Center who has been here on several occasions in the past, to do one Mass here at St. Patrick twice a month beginning in June. He will rotate around our four Mass schedule. I will continue to see if I can get other retired priests to come for one Mass on the weekends that Fr. Doug is not available.
Keep in mind, that there is a strong possibility that at some point in the future the Mass schedule will have to be reduced to three Masses because the pastor here at St. Patrick Parish (whether it’s me or someone else) will have another parish to take care of also, which is the case for many of the priests in our diocese already.