Monday, December 22, 2008

St.Stephen's Parish, Minneapolis: Good News!

I dropped by the Church of St. Stephen in south Minneapolis this morning for the 11:15 Mass. What a pleasant surprise! That parish used to be one of the most rebellious in the archdiocese and its Masses only slightly resembled those required by the General Instructions of the Roman Missal.

Several major changes were apparent. Firstly, and most importantly, the tabernacle has been taken out of hiding and placed right behind the altar where it belongs. Secondly, two young altar boys, one carrying a processional crucifix, led the deacon and the pastor up to the altar. Father Joseph Williams celebrated the Mass, assisted by his Deacon. It was hard to tell who celebrated it in the bad old times since laypeople were almost at or near the altar, saying the prayers of the Mass And, surprisiingly, only about 15 or 20% of the congregation were geezers like myself, the vast majority being probably in their 40s or younger, many with children. To top it off, the sanctuary was nicely decorated already for Christmas.

Last Spring, after having been given a new pastor, and after having been told that they no longer would get to make up their own religion, most of the members of St. Stephen's opted for their own beliefs and left the parish and began holding their religious services in a building a few blocks away. These folks apparently don't believe in much that the Church teaches so they chose to join up with the 35,000 protestant denominations that exist in the world today and pretend that there is no absolute truth with respect to God and what He has told us..

One would guess that the vast majority of these former Catholics were senior citizens who developed their beliefs and ethics during the anti-authoritarian 60s and 70s when the "Spirit of Vatican II", the anti-war movement and the Great Society's social welfare programs
were the causes that many young people gathered around. These people did make St. Stephen's social justice programs some of the most effective probably in the country. Many of the others who left are homosexuals who prefer not to abide by the Church's commandments.

The downside of all these people having left the parish is, firstly, the danger to their immortal souls. Please pray for them.

Secondly, the size of the parish is probably but a fraction of what it once was. Of course cold weather and snow this morning may have keep many away from Mass. Please pray for Father Williams and the parish. They could use parishioners, volunteers, and donors. The parish owns a residence building for the homeless next door and I would imagine that getting volunteers to help with that and the other social justice programs is a difficult task for them.

If you know of people who live in South Minneapolis who are looking for a parish, let them know that St. Stephen's is once again compliant with the Church's teaching and requirements. The parish is on Clinton Avenue, a couple blocks south of Franklin, just a bit west of 35W. Mass in English is 4:00 p.m. Saturday and 11:15 a.m. Sundays. 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Sundays in Spanish.


Cathy_of_Alex said...

Great news!!!! Thanks for posting this! LJ!

Dan said...

A reason often given against "cracking down" on a dissident parish or priest is that everybody would leave. Well, yes, it appears many people left, but the sky did not fall! While it is sad that so many would rather form their own club elsewhere than avail themselves of Christ in the sacraments, as least everybody is finally being honest. The archbishop isn't pretending to look the other way from a parish that everybody knows is goofy, and the people at the parish who left are actually acting in accord with their beliefs which are contrary to what the Catholic Church teaches instead of hiding withing a parish which bears the name Catholic.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Cath!


That is an excellent point. The bishops cause scandal and encourage others in their dissent from the rules of the Church when they tolerate behavior such as formerly was quite common at St. Stephen's and St. Joan's. There are about 10 other places, by my count, that need to be brought into line, also.

Bishops are terrified of schism. Maybe they might find out that the loss of hundreds of schismatics will result in the savings of thousands of souls and the recreation of a Church devoted both to the worship of God and the peace and justice ministries.

Adrienne said...

Tat is such good news! If I lived there I would be in line to help.

I was one of the old geezers and I never, ever thought any of that craziness at Mass was a good idea. It deeply shocked me!

And to set the record straight - I was not some namby-pamby, holier than thou,good little Catholic girl. I think I may have even invented some new sins along the way. Not bragging - just saying....

The point being - when I needed the church the most, it wasn't there in any form I could recognize. Nor did the things coming out of the mouths of most the priests resemble anything of the orthodox Catholic teaching I had received.

I'm guessing there are lots of other of us over the age of 60 who feel the same way.

Unknown said...


Thanks for the comment.

You're absolutely right. That are lots of older solid Catholics. I should have made that more clear.

I should have emphasized more that the "progressive Catholics" are dominated by older individuals whose young adult formation took place, like mine, in the 60s and 70s.

I dabbled in the "movement" for a while, but I was never really comfortable with it. As I found more reverent parishes, I moved on.

Terry Nelson said...

Now is this the same parish Michael Bayly and Sr. Brigid belong to? Finally these good souls have access to the sacraments and a real Mass. And they thought the Church was not concerned about them. What a lovely ending to an otherwise sad story.

Unknown said...

Being from balmy Oz, Michael was nowhere to be seen on Sunday. The cold weather and snow must have kept him bundled up inside. Don't know about Sr. Brigid.

Anonymous said...

NB: Saturday 4:00 Mass is cancelled/merged with the Sunday 11:15 Mass.

Rather than to speculate the whys and wheres of someone's Mass attendance...something a bit boorish's likely that Bayly was not in attendance because he actually is in Oz at this time.