The impact disliked people in leadership positions have on the Mass?

I have often wondered about the impact disliked people in leadership positions have on the Mass? Not from a standpoint of Mass validity or whether it was licit or not, but an impact on those who attend the Mass?

In my parish it truly seems that a large percentage of those who head-up liturgical ministries (both clerical and lay) are disliked based upon their treatment of others. Sexism and protecting their turf seem to play a big part. It’s very clear just watching them interacting with other individuals, or especially among themselves. Is this fairly common in other parishes?

I really do wonder why they aren’t replaced? Lack of pastoral leadership is clearly an issue in my parish so that’s a big part I suspect. Then again given their treatment of others, it seems like a great many (including myself) would never serve in a liturgical ministry unless there was real reform so that too is a real issue.

My parish is at a point now where it’s really scraping for ushers, EMsHC, servers, readers, etc. even though there are plenty of former ones in the pews. A very high percentage of those that do get involved, do so only for a short time. Those that stick around seem to be problem people too, with limited exceptions of course. I suspect this could be called a parish’s “culture”?

The worst part is seeing those that fall by the wayside and stop attending Mass because they’ve been mistreated by one or more of the disliked people I’m talking about. That’s really the only thing that bothers me. The rest I just ignore these days, yet I cannot help but wonder about the impact of these disliked individuals in leadership positions?

The Church is the people and people being people come in all ages and temperaments. There will be people in your parish you don’t see eye to eye with or even dislike. When that negative feeling threatens to rear it’s head when I see a person who I have clashed with I immediately get a mental picture in my head of my long lost and loved granny. That reminds me that the members of the Catholic Church are family to me and like all families you will have your disagreements and fights but at the end of the day, the family unit reigns supreme. I bring the smiles and love even if it is not returned. Life’s too short to dwell on the petty.

On the one hand, you can’t please everyone. Being Catholic isn’t a popularity contest and there’s too many people who say “Gee, I’d be Catholic if the Church changed it’s position on this issue”. :rolleyes:

On the other hand, how you say things whether’s sermons or other advice matters. :thumbsup:

What are you basing any of this on? You cannot speak for others, yet you claim several times that people are disliked, or are problems.

Maybe there isn’t really anything wrong and it is just you judging everyone else? What are you doing to help change anything that you perceive to be wrong?

Exactly, don’t be part of the problem; be part of the solution. Be proactive.

Certainly, the people who you worship at Mass with can affect your experience. Several years ago, I moved to a town where the Priest was someone who I had some “issues” with. This did affect my ability to worship at Mass. As a result of this, I drove a 1/2 hour away to a different town. I think if you really accept the Faith, you will find a way to live it out.

I find the problem exists in huge parishes. It is a problem that festers because priests get moved around a lot and some parishioners are there seemingly their whole lives. They become entrenched and possessive of their leadership roles.

There are other ways to serve the church outside of your parish, I do. Look into apostolates and other Catholic organizations. They are operated differently than a parish.

The parish where I attend Mass went through a rough patch when we had a priest who was very much disliked. He wasn’t really a bad guy, but his “bedside manner” was sadly lacking. He was very much a “my way or the highway” kind of leader. Unfortunately, many long-time parishioners chose the highway. Attendance dropped by about half, ushers, lectors, altar servers, Eucharistic ministers, etc. became very hard to schedule. Complaints to the diocese fell on deaf ears until the weekly collection dropped by about 75%. At that point the bishop made some “personnel changes,” and we had a new priest. Attendance is now higher than it had been in a long, long time, there is no problem scheduling people to fill needed jobs, and the collection basket is again full.

I’ve often heard it said that the priest has the final say in parish policy, but if he is genuinely disliked, his authority can be undermined.

Interestingly, the disliked priest at my parish ended up in a small rural parish where the people absolutely love him. So, maybe he and my parish was just a bad fit.

Thanks for your honest answer.

I’m not complaining or anything like that, I’m just curious. I’ve made my peace for quite some time now (years), but I see poor behavior continuing to impact others and it has made me wonder what the impact it has on the Mass, or maybe it would be better to say the Church?

In some places one cannot even ask the question without being attacked. It seems to me if a parish heads in the wrong direction, it’s extremely difficult to reform it, and that many pastors either are not up to the challenge, or they simply don’t care to be.

Thanks for your comments. I do serve the Church – I’m thankful that I am able to do so in a meaningful manner. I’m interested though in why people become entrenched and so possessive of their leadership roles, and particularly, why do such positions seem inordinately filled by people who treat others poorly? Also, why are they allowed to continue?

The overall impact they have on the Church seems to be astounding to me.

People in leadership will always have more impact. And most people are not willing to bite the bullet.

Sometimes, I wonder if they should.

I know my grandfather in the 1960s encountered a “free spirit” priest and stopped taking the family there and went to another Catholic Church in the area.

I really don’t care as long as people go in the long run, but as a friend recently noted, the excuses of “whaaa! the nuns were mean to me” and the like get old fast.

Do you think most that left went elsewhere or did they just drift away from the Church? I wince at just the thought of people being driven away from the Church because they were treated poorly. That’s one of the few things that makes me question the Church. When people within the Church are allowed to mistreat others.

Something very similar to this happened in my parish about 15 years ago. As in your case, only a huge drop in collections (about 60%) caused the pastor to be replaced. Even when he was, collections didn’t immediately respond.

The local bishop made a number of visits to assure us that the former pastor was no sent to use, with the knowledge of his treatment of people. It took more than a year for collections to return to past levels and for many of those that left, to return.

Yes, agreed!

However, the responses in this thread seem to be addressing two different subjects - those who don’t like the Church because of bad experiences, and those who want to remain faithful, and remain in a parish, after bad experiences from the individuals who run their parish.

On the second subject (parishes and people) I agree with the observation that in some parishes there are individuals who “run the show”, over years and decades - and cause great harm. Of course, the obvious response is to “do something about it”. Well, I did! I joined the Liturgy Committee for eight years, as well as other Parish work (reading, commentating, gardening, choir) and it turned out to be a complete waste of time. It’s very easy for a clique of determined women to control any committee. They talk and talk and talk about the stuff they are interested in, and if anyone tries to raise a different point, such as “The GIRM says…”, they just gang up on that individual (subtly) and talk over them. Unfortunately the priests in this time had little interest in liturgical directives, and also wanted “creative” liturgies. I have two male friends who have attended these meetings and have the same observations. I stuck around for years longer than they did - and regret it. A waste of time.

This was discussed about a year ago at some length in CAF, and several people reported similar experiences to mine (I didn’t start the thread - I just responded as here). The thread has been removed.

I am very surprised to find that the thread has been removed, and only discovered this when I tried to find it a few moments ago. It was a great thread, about real issues which we see repeatedly in CAF, with some first hand reports of real liturgy committees, without names (of course). The thread wasn’t particularly long, and the discussion wasn’t acrimonious.


It’s not all that simple. I agree that many (at least in my parish) won’t even consider serving in a liturgical ministry, but that’s almost exclusively because they (or a loved one) has been burned before by the people in charge.

There’s also the issue of being rejected by those in charge. Even though the parish (through its bulletin) begs for new ministers, most of the few that actually step forward anymore are quietly/politically rejected by those in charge if they do not meet the desires of those in charge. Being highly educated, non-political, popular, etc. almost assure rejection by the insiders.

That’s why the “so why don’t you get involved!?!” comments are amusing at times.

I didn’t have the courage to say this being new here and all, but I sure appreciate not being the only person to notice this sort of stuff! At my parish one wouldn’t even be able to join the liturgy committee unless they were “favored” and “brought in” by existing members. The infighting among the existing members is hideous to boot. It’s just a nasty situation.

At the risk of being attacked here, the sort of behavior you describe by women at least in my parish, seems to me to be a product of craving power within the context of the liturgy in light of a male-only priesthood/diaconate. That reality would NEVER be openly and honestly discussed at my parish. Very taboo. Very non-PC. Not talking about this in my opinion, does damage to parishes.

What’s really interesting at my parish is that such odious behavior over a great many years has really taken a toll to even the most casual observer. No one willing to step-up to join liturgical ministries. Those in charge are clearly not respected by the average person in the pews anymore either.

I wish that old thread was still around.

I think it can have a huge impact. In some cases, it’s a family with children that stops going. The children never get the proper Catholic education that they should have gotten and so aren’t active members as adults.

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