I am sure some may be confused by what Mass+ entails. So perhaps it is best to address this in a question and answer format.
Q: Am I expected to be at church for 2 ½ hours every Sunday?
The point of Mass+ is to provide additional opportunities to strengthen one’s individual faith and to build up a stronger sense of community and fellowship. You may choose to come to any of the events or none. It is your choice. We hope that what we are offering will be attractive to many wanting to grow in their faith. The point is not to make people feel obligated to do extra, but for us as a parish to offer extra to those who wish to get more engaged in the parish.
Q: Why is St. Ann making this change? Is it simply to reduce the number of Masses?
After reviewing the parish wide surveys and much discussion among the various focus groups and engagement committees, it was determined that what the parish needs moving forward is to attract and engage younger people and families to the parish and to get them more involved. The biggest barrier that keeps young people and families from getting more involved, according to national surveys, is the business of their schedules during the work week. But these same surveys reveal that young people and families are much more likely to get involved if programs are offered on Sundays, because they are already here for Mass. The Mass+ model is our way to address this issue.
Q: Will this address the issue?
A: Only God knows.
What I can say for certain is, if we do not attempt to be proactive in meeting the ongoing changes in our environment and reaching out to attract the younger generations, and to provide additional opportunity for spiritual growth and socials, our parish will continue to decline. It is worth noting that in May of 2019, the Archdiocese is hosting The Amazing Parish Conference and requiring every parish in the Archdiocese to attend. It was this conference, which I and several others at St. Ann attended last March, that opened our eyes to the need to think outside the box. Several parishes throughout the country have moved to this model and been very successful.
Ultimately, our success will be based on the support and participation of our existing parishioners. If many simply see this as losing their Mass time and go somewhere else, then it will certainly hamper our success. But instead of remaining stagnant to what we have always done, particularly since it is currently not working, we have decided to be bold and unafraid to go out into deep waters. I pray that many will find this new experience beneficial personally and fruitful for the parish for years to come.
More information on Mass+ will continue to be available in the bulletin, newsletter, website, etc.