Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,
As you know, exciting things have been happening in our parish. Since the closing of St. Margaret Mary’s Chapel, our parishioners from that community have joined us in worship at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. The work of integrating the two communities has progressed nicely. Our Spanish speaking leaders have done a phenomenal job in bringing people together. I am inspired by their remarkable spirit of openness, collaboration and sacrifice for the good of the parish.
You may recall that on November 14, 2021, I have announced the necessity of making some changes with respect to the 10:00am Sunday Mass in order to better serve the liturgical need of our community. That announcement was based on the insights I received from many of you, and especially from my November 8 meeting with the Parish Pastoral Council and the November 12 meeting with all the leaders of our parish. In those meetings, we had discussed the changing demographics of our parish’s membership; examined the situation after the recent unification; studied the Mass attendance over the previous five years; considered the language Masses offered in other neighboring parishes; and spent time deliberating the possibility of a change. While there was a clear consensus on the matter, we felt that it would be prudent to allow three months to pass before I would announce the final decision to the parish. In that way, parishioners would have a chance to be heard as we discern the best option for our parish.
Now that the said period is about to pass, I am asking you to prayerfully endorse my decision as follows: Effective Sunday, April 3, 2022, the Fifth Sunday of Lent, there will be changes ONLY for two Sunday Masses. The 10:00am English Mass will start at 9:30am and will become a bilingual Mass (English & Spanish). At the same time, the 11:15am Mass will start at 11:00am.
Your elected parish representatives and I sincerely believe that these changes will be beneficial as we seek to meet your spiritual needs in more creative and effective ways. Allow me to offer the following observations concerning these changes: – The new schedule will involve a 30-minute time change for the 9:30am Mass, and a 15-minute time change for the 11:00am Mass. As the times will not be too different from the current schedule, it will be less disruptive to you in your current Mass attendance patterns.
– The new schedule will provide sufficient time for liturgical preparations with reverence. It will also give a little more time for ministers, parishioners and visitors to interact personally with priests and with one another either before or after Mass (e.g., chatting, asking for information, blessings & anointing). It will foster a greater sense of fellowship among our people.
– The new schedule will allow for a better flow of traffic in and out of the crowded parking lot.
– The bilingual Mass will be a timely pastoral response to the constant requests that we have received from many of our people who desire a liturgy in which the Word of God is proclaimed and understood by both English and Spanish speakers, especially families with young children who cherish both languages. More importantly, it will allow different people to get to know their brothers and sisters as they come to share the same Eucharist.
I want you to know this decision has been made through much prayer and many candid consultations. I acknowledge that this change, while having been anticipated for some time now, will be hard for some of you, particularly English-speaking Mass-goers at the 10:00am, since it involves what we deeply love—our Eucharist and our parish community. Nevertheless, I believe that these adjustments must happen sooner than later for the benefit and growth of our parish.
As the coronavirus has subsided and the vaccine is more readily available, many more people are seeking to attend Mass in person. I am hopeful that this change will infuse greater energy, vibrancy, and inclusivity into our community. I wish to ask for your prayers and support as we move forward together.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Msgr. Cuong M. Pham