The "Last Catholic on Earth, Only One at Mass" Experience


Finally happened to me today. I even had to read not one but two readings because it’s a feast day. Fortunately, I remembered all the appropriate responses.

Who else has had this happen to them?


Sure. I’ve been the only person at Mass on countless occasions. Reader, sacristan, altar server—all me. :blush:

It even happened to me once at an EF Mass. That was…awkward. :grinning:

There were two readings? Our lectionary said the two readings were both read only if the today’s feast fell on a Sunday. Otherwise we were to choose one of the two but not both. :thinking:


I think that would be quite enjoyable. Would a non-Catholic be permitted to do the readings if no one else was present?


Yikes! I like hiding in the back of church


The priest told me to read 'em both plus the responsorial psalm, so I just followed orders.


Do you think it has anything to do with the Church scandals?


It is quite enjoyable. I love serving the Mass.

As to your question, I don’t know. Perhaps it depends upon the priest. Some years back I was the sole lay person in attendance for a Mass, but because my French was really bad at the time and we were in a hurry the priest read everything himself.


I don’t know. He didn’t ask me if I was Catholic. Although I guess it’s a fair assumption that somebody knocking on the rectory door looking for where is the noon Mass because the church is all padlocked up, is probably a Catholic.

He just said, “Do you read?” I took that to mean, did I have enough understanding of how to read the readings and wasn’t going to freak out from shyness, so since I did used to read many years ago in school, I read.


That makes sense. At the church I often do things I don’t understand, figuring that the priest knows what he’s doing.


I would likely tell him I wasn’t Catholic before anything further took place. But such a scenario is a total long shot where I live anyway. Daily Mass usually has about 75 in attendance. Maybe I could somehow trick them all into leaving, just to find out what might happen. :grin:


Not in this case. The church in question, I had never been to before. It’s in the hood, has a checkered past completely unrelated to clergy sexual abuse/ sexual behavior (its former pastor was excommunicated for basically leading 450 people into schism) and it has only one weekday Mass all week. The priest told me this happens from time to time, that he sometimes gets people from the social welfare office next door but if they are busy with clients they cannot come to the noon Mass.

I’ll go on Sunday sometime as I would like to see how big his congregation is now. The guy who decided to disobey the Bishop took most of the regular attendees with him unfortunately, but that was about 8 years ago.


Yeah, I’m more used to having somewhere between 10 and 100 people at the daily Mass depending on where I am and what time the Mass is.


At the English Masses at my ethnic church, the readers are never scheduled, so you never know ahead of time if you are going to be commandeered to read. It’s happened to me many times, so I am used to it.


They used to do this at a university I attended. I was okay with it for a while but I developed some personal issues and quit going to Mass partly because I didn’t want to be asked to read and it was hard to say no. Yeah I know that sounds stupid, it would be too hard to explain, Im trying to make it up to Jesus now though.


Seems your area’s parishes have a colourful history! :joy:


It’s the diocese where some years ago the bishop closed a whole bunch of churches and they all appealed to the Vatican and won.
We just got a new bishop so I’m waiting to see what he will do. He honestly hasn’t done much yet.


How colourful! I’m blessed with a sensible, reserved bishop myself, who hasn’t really had to deal with anything.


I don’t know, but the “monkey see, monkey do” attitude is prevalent. Why don’t people think for themselves?


I know I am going to sound like Judegey Mcjudgington, could this be a one time planning faux paw? Please forgive me for sounding rude and again it’s Mass but perhaps Mass could have been conducted somewhere else or at a different time?

For example, I don’t work in administrative or have any experience some kind of efficiency work but perhaps wouldn’t the priest’s time be better spent either visiting the sick, planning parish activities (maybe catechism or bible study or etc), having a lunch or a nap (to recharge due to strenuous work obligations) or even doing confession for those who could go during their work break and maybe having the mass at a more convenient time like 6:00 AM for all the people heading to work or 6:00 or 7:00 PM for those leaving work?

That said, if I may dare ask, are the reasons for daily mass due to demographic issues (the seniors and retirees are more likely to go to mass than the people going/leaving work/school?)?

Pardon me for sounding critical, for all I know, a Mass of one is still important, even if only one person attends. Please forgive me for sounding rude, just wanted to ask and hear other voices.


Please read my post above explaining about this.
Including where I explained the church is in the hood.
Most of its attendees, like me, do not live there.

I suspect if the priest does not have a good attendance, they may seek out an order who wishes to take it over, as the building was fixed up very, very nicely by the last pastor and his (suburban) flock before they left. An order who could help with the social justice ministry would be great.

Also…since the last flock left over disputes with the bishop, and we have a new one now, maybe some will come back. But if they did I would mostly expect them at Mass on Sunday. They commute in - in some cases from a much longer distance than me.

By the way, I doubt the priest is idle when he stops by. He is handling 2 parishes and there is a community welfare/ mission etc next door that I’m sure he ministers to in some way.

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