What happens the priest is a no Show?

I had the most interesting experience this evening. I’m not sure I’m looking for any guidance but I am interested if any of you have had a similar experience. I am a cradle Catholic and have attended Mass off and on since childhood. I read scripture daily and I try and put in the time to really get to know scripture. I apologize for not being a devoted church goer all my life, but that’s not my point. Tonight, we attended Sunday evening Mass (5pm). The Priest was a no show. They announcd that they could not get a hold of the “back-up” priest. Not sure what happened with the priest originally scheduled. They got a gentleman that has been studying for Deacon for some 4 years to do a sort of abbreviated Mass. It was nice and actually a good experience. But, I must say, I’ve attended thousands of Masses and this has never happened. Truly unique at least for me. How about you?

You experienced a Communion Service, which may be conducted in the absence of a priest.

The last time we had a no-show priest, he had died. It was the elderly associate pastor. The pastor stepped in and celebrated the Mass, after he asked us to pray for the priest who had died.


This happened to a friend of mine recently. No priest so the deacon led a communion service.

My friend treated that as if he had attended Mass that Sunday. I would have gone elsewhere to Mass since it was early enough in the day to be able to attend a late morning or evening Mass in another parish.

Once, it happened to my parish. It was known in advance that the priest wasn’t going to show. We had a communion service instead.

On a different note, my Uncle was at a mass where the priest had a seizure in the middle of mass. After the ambulance came, people waited for ten minutes after the priest went to the hospital, then eventually left. He said mass was never finished. Does anyone know what to do in a situation like that?

I have seen something similar. Sometimes a priest is not available and so there is no mass. Instead a deacon will do some readings and lead some prayers so it is like a prayer service. These are always sprung on parishioners, are not usually planned, i.e., there is no notice in the bulletin.

I, too, never experienced this while growing up. It has only been in the last ten years, or so. I wonder if it is because of a priest shortage?

I don’t like it. It makes me feel like the Catholic church is being taken over by another denomination.

A communion service - in the absence of the regularly scheduled Mass - in cases of emergency [as in the priest is unavailable] meets your obligation to attend Mass …

This did happen in the past [maybe not to you personally but others have experienced this - I bring that up because at times we want to make issues such as this “New PRoblems as in Post Vatican II” - they are not] - my husband attended a parish in the 60’ where te parish priest was at times unable to celebrate Mass [sadly he had a drinking problem] … many times when this happened they did nt even have a ‘communion service’ they were just instructed that they had fullfilled their obligation by showing up at the scheduled time.

NOw today we do suffer from fewer priests assigned to a parish … especially those with only one priest … and a lack of priests able to substitute on short notice in case of illneess or other emergency …

So how many of you are closely related to a priest [as in uncle, brother, son or cousin]? … If we want our parishes staffed by adequate numbers of men in service to God we need to:

1] Value and affirm the men in the praishes today … complain about the priest, show dis-respect and in general negatively talk about your parish priest will let any male know how much you value that profession … for example: how many people seek to become “used car sales representatives”?]

2] Complain about having to provide parish support in Time, Talent and most especially Treasure - does not encourage young people to want to enter into service to God …

3] Failure to encourage the people around you [your sons, brothers etc] to consider whether they have a vocation to the priesthood or religious life [for both males and females] in the same way you might encourage them to consider engineering, law and medicine contributes to the priest shortage …

In short - if there was no priest to say Mass - then we share in the responsiility for the lack of vocations and should take that as a wake up call …

How can a Deacon conduct a communion service? After all, a deacon is unable to consecrate the Host into the Eucharist.

He doesn’t consecrate; he uses the hosts that are already consecrated in the tabernacle. The rest of the service looks the same with the readings, etc.

A Communion Service doesn’t meet your Sunday obligation if you are able to attend Mass somewhere else. If there is no possibility of attending Mass elsewhere then of course there is no obligation.

I have experienced a couple that weren’t planned since I’m in a parish where the priest sometimes has to fly to another community to celebrate a funeral and bad weather sometimes prevents him from returning in time for Mass on Sunday. Most of the time though we know in advance that Fr. won’t be there and the “Sunday Celebration of the Word with Communion”, as it’s known in Canada, is prepared with the same care as we prepare for Sunday Masses each week.

This may occur more often because many priests are now responsible for offering Mass at more than one parish, sometimes three. They must drive from parish to parish and are also responsible for the care of those who are sick and dying. It is possible he had difficulty getting from one place to the other or was called to the Hospital or a home. He may have been sick himself.

Another priest is required to come and finish the Mass. That is not an option. The faithful can wait around and pray or can leave it is not held against them. It may however take some time for another priest to arrive. Nothing should be touched on the altar and someone must stay until the other priest arrives.

It does not meet your obligation for attending Mass. However if there is no other Mass you can attend, then you have no obligation.

once at the parish I used to attend, the pastor got sick during the mass at homily time(Saturday afternoon)… the deacon was preaching at the time. The pastoral associate finished the mass and assured us that our Sunday obligation was met.

I hope that you meant Associate Pastor or Parochial Vicar because only a validly ordained priest can finish the Mass. Pastoral Associate, to my knowledge, is generally a term (maybe a misnomer) for laity such as those who oversee the parish administration (finances, office manager, etc).

I really don’t think that the experience was a problem. Just highly unusual. The Communion Service was nice and the deacon did an excellent job. It felt like we all truly had a unifying experience. So, as always, all things work for the good.

One other thing…we got half a wafer. My wife and I talked about it and decided it probably had something to do with that they were forced to use the leftover wafers from the previous masses because the priest wasn’t there to consecrate more. We joked that it was the recession. I hope that doesn’t offend anyone. All in all we made the best of it and I came away feeling good.

Peace be with you

Cute joke. :slight_smile:

I know that you meant no harm, but, Catholics do not typically refer to the Host as a wafer. The recession joke may have been a cute remark, but, even receiving half of the Sacred Host is still receiving the whole and entire Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. As St. Thomas Aquinas notes:

And whoe’er of Him partakes,
severs not, nor rends, nor breaks:
all entire, their Lord receive.
Whether one or thousand eat,
all receive the selfsame meat,
nor do less for others leave.

I hope this helps you to better understand.

benedictgal, I have been at a number of Masses with different priests who are resorted to breaking the Hosts to have enough to feed the people and yes, it is the entire Christ just as receiving a sip of the Precious Blood is receiving the entire Christ whether or not you receive the Host at all!

Yes, another priest must finish the Mass, and your obligation would then be satisfied.

In light of this thread I think we need to pray for Vocations to the Priesthood! Especially with this being the Year of the Priest!

Brenda V.

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