He only shuts up when he is writing!
From the Pastor: Large Numbers at Daily Mass!
Six years ago when I first came to Epiphany, the daily Mass was held in the rectory chapel. I know that not many of you remember that since the chapel Masses were only attended by a handful of people. Between 2 and 6 people in the pews was the norm for the first week or so. But then the Masses started to get crowded. The chapel only fits about 24 people in the pews and there were days when we had “standing room only” crowds for the Traditional Latin Mass. It wasn’t long before we had to move to the church to accommodate everyone. Then, for Lent that first year, some parishioners asked for a 6:30 am Mass to be added so that they could attend before work. (The TLM was at 9:00 am, set at that time because there had already been an 8:00 am daily Novus Ordo Mass which had continued to be celebrated by the other priests living at the rectory.) When that Mass started we averaged about 12 people at the early Mass and anywhere between 10 and 35 people at the 9:00 Mass. The early Mass was much more consistent as it was for those who made it a part of their workday, whereas the later Mass was attended more by retirees and by homeschool families. Just two or three families coming on any particular day made for a large swing in attendance, as there could be 3, 5, or 8 people all coming as a group instead of individuals! But the other priests were not always able to celebrate the 8:00 Mass due to other commitments, so I was having to celebrate all three Masses those mornings. When Lent was over, the people begged that the 6:30 remain, and, since I could not continue to celebrate three daily Masses on a regular basis, I made the decision to change the 9:00 am Mass to 8:00. Since the two different 8:00 Masses were celebrated in different places there was no conflict in the schedule and if there was no priest for the 8:00 Novus Ordo Mass, the people could always come to the TLM at the same time just a few steps away.
As time went on, the Latin Masses grew. We are a “commuter parish” and when I see that people are driving not only from Tampa but also from other areas of Hillsborough county as well as from Pasco, Pinellas, and even Polk counties, I am amazed by our crowds! For our last First Friday, we had more than 20 people at 6:30 and over 75 people at 8:00. On First Saturday (we drop the 6:30 Mass on Saturdays) we had well over 100 people in the congregation. On the feast of Mary’s Nativity, we again had around 75 people at the 8:00 alone, although the potluck following the Adoration and Confessions after Mass might have been a factor bringing in people, too! The number of schola members who show up to chant the 6:30 am Masses is up, too, as now we often have 3 or 4 men chanting. Even the FSSP and ICKSP priests are envious of a daily chanted Mass!
So why am I writing about the daily Mass count? Because most of you don’t know how many or how few people attend daily Mass. It might surprise you to find out that we total more than 50 people showing up even on “slow” days for Mass. You know how many people show up for Sunday Mass, since you have seen it go from a partially full church to a crowded church, even to an overflowing church at the 10:30 Sunday Mass. But because of work schedules, school schedules, or other good reasons, you have never been to a daily Mass outside of Holy Days of Obligation. So I wanted to show that there are “die-hard Daily TLM Catholics” who find the time, energy, and gas money to come at least occassionally during the week. So why is that important? For two reasons. First, to encourage those of you who have thought about coming to daily Mass but figured it might be too much of a burden, or who figured that nobody else came, either, to change from “thinking about it” to “doing it.” Sometimes it helps to know that people drive from Dade City, Palm Harbor, Tarpon Springs, and other far-flung locations to attend Mass, and it might give you the impetus to at least attempt it once or twice a week yourself! The second reason is that we have finally put our building committee together to see about the possibility of building a new church and other needed buildings. Those who only come to Sunday Mass may sometimes forget that we must plan for other things as well, such as daily Mass, meeting space, storage (a big necessity!) classrooms, bathrooms, play areas, and many other “non-Sunday-Mass” things that go on in a parish. We will soon be coming up with plans for our property to present to you and to the bishop (not necessarily in that order!) to see if we can get enough support for such a major undertaking. We will have to find a way to pay for it, of course, but more than finances are involved. We will need a place to celebrate both daily and Sunday Masses, to hold meetings, to play, to pray, and, for the priests, to live while the destruction/construction takes place. Pray for us as we plan it all out!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka