Pastor’s Desk – October 10, 2021

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

   I am happy to report that Fr. Thomas Stuart began offering Masses and ministering in this parish on Wednesday of this past week. Since it is not entirely possible for one priest to cover all of the weekend Masses and other liturgies, it may be another week or 2 before you see Fr. Stuart at the altar.

   I am often asked about which priests offer which Masses on the weekend. We have settled on a fairly simple rotation for weekdays, and a more complicated rotation for weekends.

   As a bit of background information, Church law ordinarily allows a priest to offer 1 or 2 Masses per day. In case of “pastoral need,” a priest may offer 3 Masses on a Sunday. (“Sunday” includes Saturday evening vigil Masses.) Offering more than 3 Masses per liturgical day is normally “forbidden.” I put “forbidden” in quotation marks, since I am aware of no penalty for doing so, and it is at times impossible to avoid.

   At SV, for the weekday Masses, I normally take Monday and Tuesday, Fr. Stuart takes Wednesday and Thursday, and Msgr. Dan takes Friday and Saturdays. This can change due to school Masses or funerals during the week, to ensure that no one of us offers more than 2 Masses on a weekday and that duties are shared more-or-less equally.

   Sundays schedules are a bit more complicated. We have 6 Sunday Masses – 4 in English and 2 in Spanish. Since homilies are required in each of those languages, Fr. Stuart and I try to alternate between them from one week to the next, so that we need to prepare only one homily in one language per Sunday. One week, Fr. Stuart may take 2 Spanish Masses, and Msgr. Dan and I will divide the remaining 4 Masses in English between us. I try to equalize the rotation so that no priest has the same Mass 2 weeks in a row, and that every priest offers Mass at every time slot at least once every 2 or 3 weeks.

   Although Msgr. Dan is officially retired, he is sometimes asked to help out in other parishes when the pastor is ill or away.

   Another factor is the number of baptisms, weddings and quinceñeras we have at SV on a given weekend. Because so many weddings and baptisms have been re-scheduled one or more times due to COVID and the fires, we now have a backlog of both. On most Saturdays, we now have baptisms, weddings or quinceñeras – and sometimes all three. I may be asking Fr. Stuart to help me with a number of liturgies I “inherited” when Fr. Pacheco was moved to Fort Bragg.

   Though I risk boring you all to tears, enough of you have asked questions about Mass scheduling that I thought I would explain it as best I could for those who are interested.

   A closing thought: One of the primary purposes of the Catholic liturgy of Word and Sacrament– no matter who presides – is to provide a familiar framework for prayer and worship, while highlighting the Word of God and other elements which change with every day and week. Simply stated, the point is in large part, to downplay the individual personality of the priest or deacon so that it is the person of Christ himself, in Word and Sacrament, who presides and shines forth all the more brightly, even if the Pope himself is offering the Mass.


Fr. Bill Donahue

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