After several years in local school cafeterias we finally have our own building on our own piece of land. It was called, during its construction, a multi-purpose building. It is still called that and there are future plans for the “real church”. This multi-purpose building, however, looks and feels very much like many churches rather than like a humble “multi-purpose building”.
My question is, is it permissible to have faith-related or fellowship oriented non-Mass activities in the building? For example, would it be permissible to clear out the chairs and have a fish-fry or spaghetti night? Show a Christian movie? Etc.
If these things are permitted, is there anything required to hide the altar area?
If it is definitely not permitted, please cite the reason.
in the Philippines there are chapels inside malls. so it occupies only a portion of the entire building which is a Mall. but the place is reserved for holding a Mass. but otherwise, its within the Mass
the important thing is that the sanctuary is closed off from the rest of the building during such activities. and if necessary, the tabernacle be empty
Most “multi-purpose building” Catholic churches (small “c”) that I have seen either have a screen or something to close off the sanctuary or they have a separate Blessed Sacrament Chapel that can be hidden from the main part of the church.
The Blessed Sacrament should not be present when some non-sacred activity is going on.
That’s where the challenge comes in. They are calling it multi-purpose, but it is much closer to a church building than a multi-purpose building. They did not put curtains or sliding walls in.
There are some who are wanting to do things in the building to build the community. However, there are some who think this is a gross violation. Quote one friend, “There’s already so little reverence. What do you think the people will learn from having frivolous activities in there?”
Fr. has asked me to set up for a “family movie”. The movie is The Chronicles of Narnia. Some, when they heard about it through the bulletin or announcements, approached me with very negative reactions.
If it is truly wrong, I want to take the concern to Fr.
Ask him/her to explain where the parish can host community-building fellowships and how the rent for the alternative non-church building will be paid for by people who are already paying for the building of a new church building. Perhaps he/she is willing to volunteer his/her large home for “movie night.”
If your friend denies the need the for community-building fellowships, ask him/her to cite sources from this time period, not from the 1950s, that show that Catholic parishes will grow in numbers without such activities.
If your friend is not interested in increasing the numbers in your parish, ask him to reconcile this point of view with Matthew 28: 18-20 and with the missionary journeys of the apostles, who gave their lives to preach the Gospel and baptize more followers of Jesus.
Finally and most importantly, I’m guessing that the Bishop has given dispensation for the use of the multi-purpose building for “multi-purposes” during the time that the church building(s) is/are being planned and until it(they) is(are) built. Our church started out as a multi-purpose building, and was used not only for Mass, but for a school gymnasium, for dramas and musicals, and for dinners and other fellowships. As the congregation grew in numbers and stability, the monies were used to build a large and beautiful church building that is now used almost exclusively for Mass (it is also used for special speakers like Scott Hahn, our church missions, and for occasional sacred concerts). We also have a beautiful Rectory, a nursing home, a 24/7 Adoration chapel, a very nice school, and various outbuildings. This took almost 40 years, BTW–it wasn’t done overnight or in a few years.
So once you have made certain that the Bishop has given dispensation (approval) for the multiple uses of the building, then tell your friend that you are obeying your Bishop, and that if he/she disapproves, he/she should take it up with the Bishop and STOP being fractious and creating divisions and sowing doubt in the hearts of the parishioners. This is serious stuff. A naysayer who challenges the Bishop can create an attitude of disquiet and rebellion in the new parish, and eventually cause its demise. Don’t let your friend get away with spreading this kind of stuff. His/her concern about reverence is commendable, but he/she needs to submit to the Bishop and priests and stop trying to be holier-than the Church authorities.
Our church, which is 50 years old, was supposed to eventually have a hall next to it. We’re still waiting!
We have curtains that are drawn to separate the alter and tabernacle from the rest of the church. Our pews (yes, real pews) are bolted down and must be moved for any church function that requires space–and then put back before Sunday Mass. That’s always fun if the function is held on a Saturday night.
The main thing is to remember pull the curtains after Mass when we have hospitality.
I could tell some interesting tales about people who have attended functions there who didn’t realize they were inside our church.