Attending Mass on Vacation

Good evening, brothers and sisters.

My question is regarding the attendance of mass while on vacation.

During the Spring Break 2015, I will be on a class trip to Spain, the trip is sponsored by a student traveling company. Therein lies the problem, seeing as it is an organized class trip, I believe there will be a schedule to follow and all that. I’m not sure if I will be able to attend mass on the Sunday that I am there.

Would I be sinning mortally if I am not allowed to attend mass and fulfill my obligation?

Speak to your priest. He may give you a dispensation.

If you are truly unable to attend (not that it would just be inconvenient, embarrassing to go alone when classmates aren’t going, etc.), then your obligation is lifted. But I would still speak with the priest beforehand, as it’s probably not a good idea to presume that it will be. :slight_smile:

Thank you for the reply, God bless.

Given that Spain is a predominantly Catholic country, I would say you should have very little difficulty in finding a Mass to attend (even if you may not understand much of the words, if you don’t speak Spanish).

Look up where you’re going to be and where the churches are in advance. Attending Mass in a foreign country is an experience in itself not to be missed.

You’ve heard of the phrase ‘mass tourism’, right? :slight_smile:

Your teacher will understand this don’t you think?
As others has said, Spain are a catholic country so finding mass to attend should be quite easy one should think.
You can speak to your priest anyway and of he grants you a dispension then you can still go if you’re given the opportunity, but you’ll be freed from the obligation.

Im familiar with your predicament as I often go on Holliday to Denmark and to attend mass there is a HUGE hassel.
Driving 100 kilometres to attend mass is a valid reason to miss it, but still I feel sinful at Sundays when Im not in church.
I guess it triggers my scruples…

I’d suggest that you contact the company that is arranging your tour NOW and ask what arrangements can be made to facilitate your Mass attendance. Do you know if any of your fellow travelers are also Catholic? It would be helpful if you could mention that when you inquire. It’s not an unusual request, and as PP’s have said, should be easy to accommodate in a Catholic country like Spain.

And as a PP also said, attending Mass in a foreign country can be a wonderful part of your travels. I always chuckle when I remember the old Italian gentleman who sat behind a huge pillar in a church in Rapallo, reading his newspaper during Mass. I could just imagine him saying, “Hey, I’m attending Mass, aren’t I?”

Are you in high school or college? If you are in high school and therefore a minor, you should not be leaving the group on your own to attend Mass in a foreign country. If you do, you should have parental permission and be accompanied by a responsible adult.

If you are in your majority, of course, and this is a college class, you may do as you wish, but if you can"t find a Mass that is safe to travel to, no sin involved. I don’t think anyone but a seasoned traveler should be going around foreign countries unaccompanied, even if it is to find a Mass. You should stick with your travel group for safety’s sake.


Of course high school students should make plans to attend Mass if it is possible. But there are other factors to be considered.

I don’t know if safety will be an issue or not. It likely is in some locations and not in others.

Since Spain IS a Catholic country there IS a good chance that there will be Catholic Churches nearby and attending Mass there would be a wonderful experience. And there is a good chance that one of the teachers/leaders’/guides for this trip is Catholic.

I would recommend speaking to whoever is arranging the trip ahead of time and finding out where you would be on Saturday evening/Sunday and what the schedule for those days will be. Most such trips have some scheduled activities and some free time. Then research nearby Catholic parishes on the internet. If you can find Mass times before the trip, so much the better. (But don’t assume such times will be accurate.)

I would certainly recommend that you try to find companions to accompany you to Mass (or any other personal trips you might want to take.) I would NOT recommend going off by yourself in an unfamiliar place.

And it would obviously be wise to speak to your pastor about a dispensation --just in case.

Most organized tour groups will have a detailed itinerary and you should be able to look at it in order to determine if Sunday morning is free time or if optional outings are scheduled. Every tour schedule has some free time for shopping or exploring on your own built into it, and Sunday mornings are very commonly unscheduled time. This would be the place to start. You can usually find out where you’ll be staying and should be able to determine the Mass schedule of nearby churches. If you’re willing to get up early, you can probably be up and back before the rest of your group is even stirring. :slight_smile: I spent a month in Europe (on a tour group) as a 17 year old high school graduate and didn’t have any problems getting to Mass on any Sunday.

I’ve made sure that I’ve been able to go to Mass on most of my vacations recently with the exception of 1 where I had no inexpensive transport available, and walking was too far. If I do go on this pilgrimage to France next fall, Mass will be each day part of the trip including Sunday.

Make a good faith effort to arrange to go to Sunday Mass while you are in Spain. I think the chances are very good that the schedule could allow it, if you ask well in advance.

If you try to get to Mass and can’t get to Mass, you aren’t obliged to do the impossible.

The problem with tour groups is that, unless it is requested, they will not plan for the people in the group to attend Mass or other church services. They have a schedule to keep and, except for an emergency, they will not vary from that schedule much. I was in Rome Italy with a group, had a two hour window to find a Mass and could not do it.

I would speak to whoever is organizing the tour and see what arrangements can be made. They know the itinerary therefore they will be able to give you an answer. If they are unable to accommodate you, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Sometimes all you can do is try your best and enjoy the trip. Who knows maybe you will be able to visit one or maybe attend a liturgy of the hours which isn’t the same but when you are part of a tour, generally speaking you have less freedom over the itinerary verses if you were going alone.

Yes, the earlier the concern is raised, the better.

It still may be that the group will locate a nearby parish, leave a window for that Mass, and then the Mass will be moved to another time and the traveler will not be able to make it, anyway. In that event, though, the traveler will have made a good-faith effort. You’d of course miss going to a museum with the others in order to go to Sunday Mass, but I would think your pastor will dispense you in advance if the question comes down to missing a train or upsetting the travel plans of the whole group

Having said that, if I were visiting a Catholic country, of course I would want to be able to attend at least one Mass there, if I could! Go to Spain and miss a chance to celebrate Mass with the Catholics of Spain? How can you say you’d been to Spain? Unthinkable!


Of course. And what tour would be complete for a Catholic if it wouldn’t at least involve visiting some of the world-famous churches?

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