Strangers at Mass


#1

In another thread, someone mentioned being around strangers at Mass. That struck me.

Do you think of the other people at Mass as strangers?

Do you attend the same Mass time at the same parish most Sundays?

How large is your parish? Do you recognize the people you see at Mass?

We attend a large(!) suburban parish. We usually attend the same time each week, but do attend other Mass times. We've also belonged to this parish for more than 5 years. I can't say I know every family in the parish, but I recognize most of the people who sit around us in Mass each week.

I definately wouldn't call them all friends (I don't even know names for some folks :o), but I wouldn't call them 'strangers'. Not in the sense that I wouldn't be willing to wave if I saw them on the street, or strike up a conversation in the grocery store.

I am not introverted, but I'm not the most outgoing person either. I do think though that the people at church are fellow parishioners rather than strangers. People who could be next year's CCD teacher, could be manning the grill at the next KofC BBQ, could be the parent of one of the other altar boys on my son's team.

Do you recognize the people around you at Mass? Do you see the altar boys or youth group kids are your children's school? Do you run into the flower lady at the store? See the Knights on the commute to work?

If you don't go to your neighborhood parish, do you make more of an effort to meet and know the people around you at Mass?


#2

I know many, but there are many I don’t know. We have FIVE masses on Sunday- yes, we are looking at how to best build a new church for more seating, and less work for our dear priests. Those men are so tired on Mondays :frowning:


#3

I tend to sit in the same spot during Mass and so I know everyone around me unless a new face decides to show up that Sunday. :) I don't know everyone by name in our parish (it's only probably 300 or so people) but I definitely don't consider them strangers. I consider them my faith family. ;)


#4

Thanks for responding. We have 6 Sunday Masses altogether, so I do understand not knowing everyone by name!

I guess I think there is quite a bit of room between "strangers" and friends. Especially since most of us are creatures of habit and so we are all sitting in about the same spot every week.Ithink we'd at least become "nodding acquaintances" within that time! :)


#5

i used the word stranger in another thread earlier today but simply meant to imply someone who was not my wife or children..i will hold their hands..i don't really want to hold anyone else's :shrug:

but having said that, we visit several of our 5 Sunday Masses frequently and always sit in a different spot during each Mass we attend.. we do like to mix it up and see new faces.. i just don't want to hold their hands ;)


#6

I recognize pretty much everyone at Mass, but I only know a handful.


#7

Mine is a suburban parish of roughly 3500. We always attend at our parish.

We have three weekend Masses, and 95% of the time attend the same one. And we always sit in our same seats :D As does almost everyone in our "area". We're on very friendly terms with the others in our area, having grown close when the wife of one parishioner in a few rows back fought and lost her battle with cancer. We now brunch regularly, gather outside church a handful of times throughout the year, and come together to celebrate major milestones (anniversaries, etc.) The adults acknowledge church holidays and birthdays with small gifts presented after Mass.

There are other very familiar faces that - like us - are recognizeable because they have "their" seats and you get used to seeing them there! We live in a town of about 15,000 and see fellow parishioners around town; the kind you wave and smile to but don't really stop and visit with. We usually see them at grocery stores, restaurants, and the kids' sports activities.

I like it. I don't want a too-small parish nor a too-large parish. I don't want to feel hostage to having to socialize at Mass, nor do I want to feel ignored and lost among the masses. My parish and my people are perfect :thumbsup:.


#8

My parish is very, very small and I know all of the parishioners by name. I still wouldn't want to hold hands during the Our Father.


#9

[quote="CatholicVera, post:7, topic:298362"]
Mine is a suburban parish of roughly 3500. We always attend at our parish.

We have three weekend Masses, and 95% of the time attend the same one. And we always sit in our same seats :D As does almost everyone in our "area". We're on very friendly terms with the others in our area, having grown close when the wife of one parishioner in a few rows back fought and lost her battle with cancer. We now brunch regularly, gather outside church a handful of times throughout the year, and come together to celebrate major milestones (anniversaries, etc.) The adults acknowledge church holidays and birthdays with small gifts presented after Mass.

There are other very familiar faces that - like us - are recognizeable because they have "their" seats and you get used to seeing them there! We live in a town of about 15,000 and see fellow parishioners around town; the kind you wave and smile to but don't really stop and visit with. We usually see them at grocery stores, restaurants, and the kids' sports activities.

I like it. I don't want a too-small parish nor a too-large parish. I don't want to feel hostage to having to socialize at Mass, nor do I want to feel ignored and lost among the masses. My parish and my people are perfect :thumbsup:.

[/quote]

You consider 3500 just the right size? What would be to big or too small? We have a grand total of 36 active parishoners plus about 20 more in two nieghboring missions. That's active members mind you not including those who still identify themselves as catholic.


#10

3500?! Wow! That would be half of my city. :D. I live in a tourist town outside of Yelowstobe Park so we get visitors from all corners of the globe. I think it's wonderful that we all celebrate the Mass together. I see a lot of families holding hands for the Our Father, but it doesn't look like people are crossing family lines or the aisles so that everyone is holding hands. Now Mass in the Park is different. It has a real "retreat" feel to it so I think folks here are a little more affectionate, but again, it's mostly tourists.
Peace.


#11

[quote="yukonbrad, post:9, topic:298362"]
You consider 3500 just the right size? What would be to big or too small? We have a grand total of 36 active parishoners plus about 20 more in two nieghboring missions. That's active members mind you not including those who still identify themselves as catholic.

[/quote]

I do :) It's on the larger side (I think 2000-2500 is ideal) but still sized to the point where we know many faces and maintain the feel of a small community. Maybe it's relative.

I grew up in a parish that was considerably larger, and you'd meet people out in the secular side that had been lifetime parishioners but whose paths you had never crossed before because the church was that big. It didn't bother me so much then, but that's not what I want now - especially for my kids. It seems so "mega-church" to be lost in the crowd; I want to know the people we worship with, for my children to befriend those who share our faith.

I travel for work. I spend several weekends in downtown Philadelphia, where I attend a church that is much smaller than my home parish. Anyone from that area? Maybe you know how large/small that parish is; I have no idea. Many weeks the small attendance is bolstered by other out-of-towners staying at my same hotel. It's so small that even I, a guest, recognize the lectors and cantor. There are such devoted people giving so much to that church. The burden seems unfair, not that they'd complain about it. There's so much I appreciate about the smaller community. There's also so much I do/would miss if that were my home parish.

I feel like my parish gives me the benefit of both. I can take advantage of larger offerings due to sheer numbers of people contributing and ministering. I can also experience a smaller church feel (and do) by attending daily Mass. There are about 20 regulars, and while I love that number for daily worship I'd feel like it wouldn't be enough to sustain a vibrant, active parish (without burning some people out).


#12

[quote="number2wilkins, post:5, topic:298362"]
i used the word stranger in another thread earlier today but simply meant to imply someone who was not my wife or children..i will hold their hands..i don't really want to hold anyone else's :shrug:...

[/quote]

Me too. And at any given Mass, the person next to me might easily *be *a stranger, someone I have never seen before, for whatever reason. Or someone else's husband.

And I used to attend Mass at a place that had a lot of tourists, so then being next to a stranger was quite frequent.

Luckily, our bishop seems to have cracked down on hand-holding during Mass.


#13

[quote="Mrs_Sally, post:1, topic:298362"]
In another thread, someone mentioned being around strangers at Mass. That struck me.

Do you think of the other people at Mass as strangers?

No. We all pray "Our Father..."

Do you attend the same Mass time at the same parish most Sundays?

No. In the summer, I attend the first Mass as the Church is cooler. In the winter, I attend the last Mass because the Church would have heated up well.

How large is your parish? Do you recognize the people you see at Mass?

We have 2000 registered Parishioners with a little over 900 regularly attending Mass. Yes, I would know most of them.

Do you recognize the people around you at Mass? Do you see the altar boys or youth group kids are your children's school? Do you run into the flower lady at the store? See the Knights on the commute to work?

If you don't go to your neighborhood parish, do you make more of an effort to meet and know the people around you at Mass?

[/quote]

  • Our Parish is an extension of our home and know most of the Parishioners in or out of Mass. Many of the Parishioners would also know each other as their children and grandchildren attend/ed our school (some are/were members of the Guild of St Stephen) and most file into the Parish Hall for tea, coffee and cake after the morning Sunday Mass. The Church and the school still play a big part in the lives of members of the Catholic community in my area, 3/4 of them have lived here from childhood.

Over a dozen churches in our deanery are a mile from each other and one is likely to come across current/former members of our Parish in those Churches, as well as the shops and in public transport. Our primary school children also attend/ed the secondary Catholic schools in the deanery, so the village tradition continues. Even when the children go to uni elsewhere, the parents remain and all in the Parish would know when they have visited and how those children are faring away from home.*


#14

It’s taken me about 3.5 years to get to know a few people in our parish. I only knew about three or four people to talk to until the beginning of this year. Since I got involved in serving at Mass, going to regular Adoration, reading the word, joining a couple of church committees and the Bible study group I’ve got to know 15-20 people to talk to. That’s not bad I think - there is a limit to how many people you can know. If you have the time, get involved in the nitty gritty of your local parish, you’ll definitely get to know more people.

I made actual Catholic friends outside of the parish as I belong to the Secular Franciscan Order. These are people I can actually call friends/family rather than acquaintances, people I can spend time with. Don’t discount the lay or secular orders belonging to the Catholic church, it is a good way to focus your faith and you may make some solid friends as a bonus.


#15

Our parish is about 450 families. I have attended there most of my life. We (the parish) have always made a point of welcomng new people. We have a team of welcomers who greet people when they arrive at Mass.
If I attend at an out of town parish, I try to speak to the people around me, as is practical, after Mass.


#16

I have no idea how many people or families belong to my Parish. I tried looking on our Parish website but couldn’t find anything.

We have 7 Sunday Masses… and they are pretty packed and there is Saturday Vigil as well. I don’t recognize most people and wouldn’t know them on the street. However, there are a few good reasons for that. First, I am an odd creature of “not habit” and rarely sit in the same place and don’t go to the same Mass all the time either (although the 9am Mass is the one I frequent the most). I live in an area with a lot of military (who move every few years, so the are is rather transient in nature) and I myself have only lived here for little over a year.

So yeah, the people are strangers to me. I don’t know them, I don’t even recognize them other than one other family… but that’s only because they lived next door to me. But they were military and moved away, so I am back to knowing no one other than the priests and last year’s CCD teacher. The mom’s group and bible study all meet during working hours (and I am a single working mom) so I miss out on that. I tend to go to other events (like the pancake breakfasts and such–but they are packed too and it’s hard to mingle).

I actually know more people in my mom’s small town Parish than I do my own Parish (her’s is not the one I grew up in–my parents built a new, “retirement” home and moved after the nest was empty). I go there and people ask me how I am doing, I know who they are and ask about their families or their harvest (it’s a farm community), and even the priest says hi and knows me.

You know, if you could make copies of my Mom’s Church building, you could probably fit about 8 of them inside my Church building.


#17

I attend a smaller parish which offers only 3 mass times in total. We switch between a couple of masses due to work and sports schedule. We do tend to sit in the same area as a family do to the times when I lector. Even though I do recognize a number of people and might not know their names, I consider everyone there to be my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ so I guess I don't consider them strangers. Whether i know or recognize someone at mass, I basically consider everyone there at mass my family of faith and not strangers.
that is the view point I have. i hope that more Catholics would view their fellow parishioners in this matter. We have a common bond in Christ and share in that when we partake in Mass, whether we actually know each other or not personally. ( or even hold hands during Our Father!)


#18

We have about 80 people who attend our TLM and coffee hour every Sunday.

I know most of the people if not by name, then by face. I am able to notice when someone new comes. I have been attending the parish for a little over a year.


#19

We have 10,000+ registered members.

I know them all by name.

-Tim-


#20

We have about 50/60 + regular attenders on a Sunday morning and yes I know most of their names and know all of their faces, enough that when the new priest thought that there were a couple of new people in church and sent for the Banns book thinking he'd forgotten it, I was able to say afterwards, no one new in church, just some of them not that often, meaning to be helpfull. Unfortunately I couldn't tell him that before he had sent for the banns book. But I been going since was 15 and now mid 40's, sing and serve. We only have the one service of which the priest will be greatful for since he goes onto the neighbouring parish as he is doing both.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.