If lay people “assist” at Mass, what does the priest do? Fr. Z rants.

A reader sent me a link to a blog I had never seen, Priest’s Secretary for an especially irritating entry.   The entry wasn’t irritating because the blog itself is loony.  Rather, the story recounted in the entry was loony, and did I mention irritating?  The blog was just reporting it.  As a matter of fact, Priest’s Secretary boiled it down from another blog, Cleansing Fire.

I thought this sort of …. codswallop was fading out.  I guess it hangs on among the liberal dinosaurs.

It dredges up memories of the pure heresy we were fed at my US seminary many years ago.

Did I mention this was irritating?

Here it is:

Blogger looks at growing complacency in priest shortage

From CleansingFire.comCharlotte Bruney, who has been serving as the lay pastoral administrator of St. Vincent De Paul in Churchville for nearly 12 years, comments in her most recent column about the departure of Fr. Cosgrove from weekday Mass assistance [“assistance”…?!?  Right!  Father, er um… sorry… “Just call me Bob!” only helps a little at “liturgy”.] at her parish. In this piece, Ms. Bruney appears all too comfortable without a regular priest to offer weekday Masses. Sadly, this is a problem I see becoming more widespread each day in this diocese [Rochester, NY].


Perhaps my concern will be better appreciated if one recalls what Ms. Bruney wrote in her brief article [this explains a few things…] printed in Bishop Matthew Clark’s lay ministry apologeticForward in Hope:

“an eighty-year-old gentleman who was a regular at daily liturgy pulled me aside one morning and announced: “We’ve been talking and we’ve agreed that we don’t want you working so hard to get us a priest for weekdays. We’ve decided that you should say Mass for us!” Stunned, I laughed aloud and then realized that he was perfectly serious. I asked him if he wanted to have me excommunicated; he replied, “We’ll just pull down the shades. No one will have to know but us!“”

Equally problematic is the following passage, also from Ms. Bruney’s piece in Forward in Hope:

“This small, but faithful, community gathers every weekday morning for either Mass or a Scripture and Communion service (at this point, it matters not which it is)”

Read more

I think it does matter.  And it would matter a great deal to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith if someone was simulating Mass there.

We hear language about lay people “assisting” at Mass.  That is not what priests do.  Priests don’t assist.

Bad theology trickles down form the sanctuary and pulpit into the pews.   It is subtly but inexorably conveyed with vocabulary, attitude, tone of voice and outright statements.   Change the words of how we pray, for example, and you will change what people believe.

There was some dreadful theology about priesthood and lay people and ecclesial roles from influential authors such as the late Fr. Eduard Schillebeeckx which we still need to clean up today.

Lay people cannot simply be “called forth” from a community to “preside” at Mass (let’s say “Mass”, not “liturgy”).

The sharing in the priesthood of Christ which the baptized have is not the same as the priesthood the ordained priest has.  They are different qualitatively.  A thousand million billion lay people could say the words of consecration over bread and wine and, at the end of the day, bread and wine would be on the altar.  A priest, without a lay person in sigh, would consecrate the Body and Blood of Christ.   Priest’s don’t “assist” at Mass.  And I am not entirely sure that “assist” is the best word to describe the participation of lay people.   That word implies something that is, in a sense, impossible, unless perhaps we are talking about their “active participation” properly understood.

Pay attention to the words people use and the subtle clues they give.  What do you hear these days?

Ministry?  Minister applied to nearly everyone?

Priest?  Presider?

Mass?  Liturgy?

Participate at Mass/liturgy?  Assist?  Attend?  Hear Mass?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Glen M says:

    I’m convinced “Holy Communion without a priest” is the end goal for some “liturgical liberals”. Their answer to the priest shortage would be a traveling priest who stops by parishes, says Mass, consecrates a large quantity of hosts, the Blessed Sacrament is then reserved for laity liturgies.

  2. traditionalorganist says:

    Well, I’m originally from Rochester, and this is just one of the many problems they have. Our home parish very frequently had the homily given by the “Pastoral Associate,” a divorced lay woman. The pastor would say she wasn’t actually giving a homily, but a “reflection.” He’d read the Gospel, then say, Ms. So and So is going to give us a reflection on the words of the Gospel. The only saving grace of the diocese of Rochester is that there are many many good people who have been fighting the abuses for years (and losing virtually every battle). Also, there is a Catholic Culture about Rochester due to the fact that pretty much everyone there is the son or daughter of an immigrant. Please pray for that Diocese and for Bishop Matthew Clark. I’ve heard he’s close to retirement. Pray also for a good and holy replacement.

  3. Aaron B. says:

    Unfortunately, many Catholics do see little difference between Mass and a Communion service. You hear some Scripture, someone preaches, and you get Communion — that’s why you’re there, right? When my parents’ parish was being closed, some people wanted to try to keep it open and have Communion services, presumably with consecrated hosts (and the Precious Blood, surely; can’t have Communion without it these days) shipped in from a nearby parish.

    I hear traditionalists say “assist at Mass” a lot, but I think that’s an attempt to stress the point that they’re actively participating by praying the Mass, and not just watching and listening, as words like “attend” or “hear” might imply to the unaware.

  4. rakesvines says:

    I am from the Arch. of Washington, DC and I hear both. The Liberal tripe comes from Jesuits and a few priests in their 50s, whom I suspect to be Democrats. The older priests 65+ use a mix.

    Semantics do matter. Mass came from “Ite missa est” which does not capture the essence of the sacrifice. Liturgy came from “leitourgia” – a service which is a little better than “It is sent.”

  5. irishgirl says:

    Oy. This diocese is to the west of where I live.
    Will there be any ‘true, real Catholicism’ when Bishop Clark retires? Or will there be just ruins?

  6. St. Louis IX says:

    I started attending a weekday Mass at a local parish here in the Springfield Ma Diocese. From time to time I would bring one or more of my children with me. One day my oldest son and I went to Mass only to find out is was a Communion gathering? As soon as the Helper? started with the ceremony? We got up and left…
    As a side note there is a gentleman that is always there, my mother tells me everyday. Very polite etc.etc. Turns out recently he had a little chat with Mom about all the tenants of the Faith he does not subscribe to….He is a heretic attending as a good Catholic!! Strange days indeed..

    Get this…The Main Church has a stained glass window of the miracle of a Donkey kneeling in before the Blessed Sacrament…yet several years ago the diocese published a letter asking/directing the faithful NOT to kneel for Holy Communion.

  7. Scott W. says:

    I’m convinced “Holy Communion without a priest” is the end goal for some “liturgical liberals”. Their answer to the priest shortage would be a traveling priest who stops by parishes, says Mass, consecrates a large quantity of hosts, the Blessed Sacrament is then reserved for laity liturgies.

    Fr. Lonenecker says he was explicitly told this by higher ups when he was in England. Some bishops want fewer priests and some want to install women lay administrators. It’s a cynical attempt to end run around the male-only priesthood.

  8. oddfisher says:

    I don’t know Latin, but since the Spanish and French for “attend” are, respectively, “assistir a” and “assister a”, I’ve always assumed that “assist at Mass” was a Latinate affectation. Not that there’s anything wrong with that :) Some of my best friends are Latinates.

  9. priests wife says:

    Father- people are trying to conceive children with no father DNA, so why not mass with no priest- father? It is a sad, evil world we live in.

    I say- if there is no priest for a daily Mass, say a rosary, sing some hymns and perhaps read the readings for the day. Communions services are confusing and unnecessary. I know many faithful Catholics love to receive the Holy Eucharist every day- but for those people truly faithful and ‘hardcore’- they will understand that communion services confuse roles. If a parish can’t get a priest for Saturday vigil, Sunday mornings or even Sunday evening- then God help us

  10. benedetta says:

    Well this is happening fairly regularly where I am as well. What they do is the parish is in the charge of the lay “minister”. That is the main point of contact for “everything”. And listed on the diocesan website for each parish. Sometimes it is a nun or just lay woman. Maybe a deacon, rarely. Then if you look at the parish page, scrolling down under “staff” you will find that the “priest” is actually dubbed the “sacramental minister” who is around, well, just on weekends. The various other (I take it not seminary trained, such as it is) lay ministers conduct the communion services in the week and homilize per a schedule. This all has to do with the mythical “priest shortage”. Somehow with all the closings and mergers the parishes which are run by a nontrained lay woman are permitted to continue on with the status quo…

  11. Joe in Canada says:

    to tell the truth I took this to mean he assists the parish by coming in during the week for weekday Mass.
    I noticed a few weeks ago there was a posting of an article or letter about an EF Mass with three Priests ‘presiding’, without comment. It would be a pity if the legitimate concerns and arguments about language were vitiated by the irrelevant question of whose ox is getting gored.

  12. frleo says:

    I interpreted the word assistance in a slightly different light in the quote above. I first read it as Fr. will no longer be assisting our parish by saying daily Mass. If it is used as Fr. Z suggests, I agree completely with what he has said. The rest of what he said is spot on.

  13. Alex P says:

    Picking up on Scott W.’s post, it wouldn’t surprise me if that was the goal of the E&W Bishops. I have been discerning a vocation for some time and approached a Vocations Director in Britain some time back(but after SP, July 2007) to discuss some of the thoughts I’d been having about the priesthood. When we met I made a mistake of mentioning I sometimes go to a Latin Mass at Corpus Christi, Covent Garden, on a Monday, and that was like dropping a bomb on the conversation. The Vocations Director spent the next half an hour generally staring out of the window, avoiding eye contact, and at one stage said ‘That sort of thing is so divisive’, and how those who have an attraction for the Latin Mass are all ‘homosexuals’ who like ‘dressing up’. The conversation came to a rather limp end, and I received a letter in the post to say he didn’t think I was ‘quite ready’ to take a vocation further at this stage. In no way did I feel he was keen on encouraging vocations, or at least no interest in furthering any vocation I felt I might have had owing to his loathing of the traditional form of the Mass.

  14. I understand the good Bishop Vasa of the Diocese of Baker, OR has prohibited Communion services, and tells his people instead to pray for vocations.

    This is another reason why we need the resurgence of the TLM. It sheds so much light on the dignity and specialness (if that is a word) of the ministerial priesthood.

    Miss Anita Moore , O.P.

  15. andycoan says:

    God, bless us with vocations to the Priesthood! And faithful Bishops!

  16. PghCath says:

    I frequently pray that the Holy Father will look kindly on certain poor Catholics who live on Lake Erie in 2011 and on Lake Ontario in 2012. While we know their new bishops will be holy and orthodox as long as Benedict XVI is Pope, I hope they will also be young and vigorous. They will have much work ahead of them.

    Indeed, so much work that a coadjutor wouldn’t be a bad idea. . .

  17. maynardus says:

    The damage done to the Church in America by the bishops of Rochester and Albany – and the man who midwifed their appointment, Abp. Jean Jadot – is incalculable. The priestless parish and the lay-led service – as well as the doctrinal vagueness which has been engendered here – would seem to comport perfectly with the warped “vision” of Bishops Clark and Hubbard, who thankfully are (nearly) the last of their ilk.

    They’ve both got about 3 years to go before they reach 75, assuming the present Holy Father is still on the Chair of Peter – Deo volente – I’m hoping he’ll make a couple of “statement” appointments – real “Benedict XVI” bishops – who’ll have the courage to begin restoring and re-evangelizing. Nothing could say “The Cafeteria is CLOSED” to the remaining flower children in the American Church more loudly or clearly…

  18. Clinton says:

    I’m not fond of ‘attend Mass’ or ‘hear Mass’–a mere atheist could do as much.

    I’ve never liked ‘presider’ for a similar reason. Besides sounding contrived and prissy, the
    word implies that the priest merely supervises the Mass as it unfolds around him, like
    some sort of hall monitor. ‘Celebrant’ is still the best descriptor for a priest’s role, in my

    As for the eighty-year old man who regular at daily Mass (if he really existed), surely he
    should know that nothing good ever came from something begun with the words “We’ll
    just pull down the shades. No one will have to know but us!”.

  19. JeffTL says:

    I’ll second what oddfisher said. “Asistir” in Spanish is virtually always “attend” – assist in the English sense (to aid) is typically “ayudar.” The Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy, the definitive Spanish dictionary, does give definitions for asistir that would make it synonymous with or similar to ayudar, but almost always it means to attend an event — for example, “asistir a la misa en la Iglesia de Santa Margarita María” (go to Mass at St. Margaret Mary’s, in English) or “asistir al servicio de adoración en la Iglesia Presbiteriana Primera,”(go to the worship service at First Presbyterian) or even “asistir al cine” (go to the movies). The Latin root of all of these is assisto, assistere — to stand by. It comes from from sisto, sistere (to stand) and the preposition “ad” in its sense as a directional. Different sources seem to define it as help, attend, or both, so it’s probably safe to say that it has developed a different common meaning in English and in the Romance languages, both with roots in the Latin meaning. So the words are at once cognates and false friends; they have a shared etymology but very different typical connotations.

    My inclination would be, then, that “assist at Mass” is acceptable, in environments where it is commonly understood, but to many people it probably gives the image of something along the lines of a deacon or altar server — certainly not the priest, who is clearly celebrating and not assisting, nor likely the congregation, which is attending and probably mostly participating but not necessarily assisting in the typical English sense.

  20. Jack Hughes says:

    Words fail me; however people should realise that heretics in the low countries have already gone down this route; they call them ecclesias – it was in the grey lady a month or so ago HT to Larry D of AOA .

  21. RichR says:

    In metropolitan areas where parishes are many, and you know that your territorial parish is not having Mass, but rather a Communion service, AND it is not too difficult to get to the parish next door where an actual Mass is offered, then aren’t you obliged to go to that Mass? The Communion Service doesn’t fulfill your Sunday Obligation.

    In fact, if there are other parishes close by offering Mass, I would think the proper thing to do is not even allow a Communion Service for fear that people commit an objectively grave sin by not hearing Mass.

    Oh wait, if they don’t have the Communion Service, they can’t pass around the collection plates.

  22. robtbrown says:

    Scott W. says:
    16 December 2010 at 10:56 am

    I’m convinced “Holy Communion without a priest” is the end goal for some “liturgical liberals”. Their answer to the priest shortage would be a traveling priest who stops by parishes, says Mass, consecrates a large quantity of hosts, the Blessed Sacrament is then reserved for laity liturgies.

    Fr. Lonenecker says he was explicitly told this by higher ups when he was in England. Some bishops want fewer priests and some want to install women lay administrators. It’s a cynical attempt to end run around the male-only priesthood.

    Actually, it’s more than that. The theological foundation for such a strategy is that the Mass is a Meal. If that is taken as the first principle of the Eucharist, then the de-emphasis of the Mass as Sacrifice follows–and sooner or later it evaporates altogether. Accordingly, one attends mass not to be present at the Sacramental Sacrifice but rather for a Communal Meal (Communion + Assembly) not needing a priest to celebrate. What obviously follows is that a priest can consecrate hosts for many parishes without ever being present at any of them. (IMHO, for progressives such a strategy is merely one stop on the road to the destruction of the Priesthood and the Eucharist and the Lay Church of Protestantism.)

    The justification for all of this is Karl Rahner’s famous phrase “One Sacrifice, Many Masses” (the title of a 1949 article), which neither affirms Transubstantiation and the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the mass nor denies it. Typical ambiguity from the Doctor Equivocus that is little else than Industrial Strength Ecumenism with Protestants.

    One final point: I have it on good authority that when Abp Hunthausen was still the head of the Seattle archdiocese, he told his priests that a successful pastor would only see his parishioners on Sunday, with everything else handled by the laity.

  23. albizzi says:

    Though it may be very sad not having a priest to celebrate mass daily, communion service is not a “right”though in the times being nobody is able to consider going to mass without receiving communion and communicants never were so many while those regularly going to confession never were so few…
    In the case one cannot worthily receive our Lord one can make a “spiritual communion” without receiving the host. The Church allows this practice without restrictions even several times a day during mass or at home. And certainly it is more fruitful than an unworthy or a sacrilege communion.

  24. don Jeffry says:

    Having lived in a French speaking area for 15 years, it is common to say “assister à la messe” but, even though the word “participer” in French implies more than just being present, it is a given that anyone who bothers to go to Mass will participate. Just a thought…


  25. Dan G. says:

    Beyond the language used, a key gap here is whether people understand what the Mass is. You can pinpoint that by asking: What’s the difference between the Mass and a Communion service? You can list off all the things a Communion service is… but what part of the Mass is missing? If someone can answer “consecration,” that’s good, but still not as strong as it needs to be.

    After all, why not have one bishop and a thousand deacons; so that the bishop would celebrate one Mass with thousands of hosts, and then dispatch the deacons to conduct thousands of Communion services? Wouldn’t that be better?

    Until people can begin to articulate what would be lost, and why that would not be better, they are ripe to fall into the errors cited in your post.

  26. rakesvines says:

    The practice of using lay ministers is justifiable in remote mission areas where the people would not be able to celebrate Mass any other way. To meet this pastoral need, the pastor commissioned lay ministers to deliver the consecrated hosts after leading the Liturgy of the Word. This was done to preserve the faith and minister to the Church in those areas. The priests in the towns already celebrate 6 standing room only Masses on a given Sunday.

    However, if the need is not there as in here where everyone can drive to the next Church, then to do that just to promote the lay people in their liturgical functions is an aberration or an abuse of the intent of the exemption.

  27. robtbrown says:

    frater says:

    Does the appointment of the coadjutor bishop have to be requested by the current bishop?


    Or can the Pope just muscle in and name a coadjutor and not take into account what the current bishop thinks or says?


    If a coadjutor is named, does that imply “right of succession” or does “right of succession” have to be stated as such?

    It is automatic right of succession. Further, Rome can give a coadjutor whatever authority it wants, even to the point that the diocesan bishops would be little else than a figurehead.

  28. Anonymous Seminarian says:

    Maybe we’ve read this all wrong. Perhaps what they meant was that the parish has two priests, one active, one retired, and, because they do not like daily concelebration, first one priest says Mass while the other assists him vested as a server, and then they switch. This sounds like a very laudable practice. And it seems to be the only interpretation that uses “assist” in the most appropriate sense, therefore, etc.

  29. Fr. Basil says:

    \\Mass? Liturgy?\\

    The Byzantine term for the Eucharistic Sacrifice is Divine Liturgy.

    Some other Eastern Churches use it, too.

    \\Participate at Mass/liturgy? Assist? Attend? Hear Mass?\\

    There are number of terms for the faithful’s part that are all equally appropriate.

    As far as a lay-led Liturgy of the Word with distribution of Communion in the Latin Church, I thought this was forbidden on ordinary weekdays. Rather, part of the Divine Office was to be celebrated in Parishes instead. Is this correct?

    In the Byzantine tradition, there is a service in the Horologion called Typica (Obednitsya in Slavonic). It’s basically the Liturgy of the Word with a few other prayers. While it does not specifically mention the distribution of Communion, it’s obvious where it would go.

  30. MikeM says:

    For years the pastor at the parish closest to here was “too busy” to say daily Mass (something I would be much more sympathetic about if there was any indication that he was actually performing any of the roles of a pastor in that time). They had a communion service each day instead. The man who led the communion services wasn’t clowning around or rebelling of anything like that.

    But, it wasn’t Mass. It was better than nothing, but we did not receive the same sort of Grace that we would have received from a Mass. Now, new priests have come into the parish and they have made it clear that there will be daily mass… daily. I haven’t been able to make it there this past semester due to my class schedule, but I’ve heard that attendance is waaay up.

  31. Supertradmum says:


    Your final point,

    One final point: I have it on good authority that when Abp Hunthausen was still the head of the Seattle archdiocese, he told his priests that a successful pastor would only see his parishioners on Sunday, with everything else handled by the laity.

    is one held in my diocese, Davenport, by some priests and many laypeople, owing to a large extent by the heretical teaching at the local Catholic university for years and for bad, very bad, seminary training. I know that Communion Services have been conducted here for longer than many other dioceses on purpose, even when priests were available. The philosophy is one of radicalizing and clericalizing the laity and it is a ultra-liberal attempt to make the Eucharist, the Divine Liturgy, not the center of parish life.

    I am against all Communion services. I have happened upon them when I was thinking I was going to a daily Mass and turned up to find a gray-pant-suited nun setting up the altar and proceeding with the “service”. Worse have been lay men and women, in blue jeans, in my former parish, where the local monastery could not be bothered in the summer, to send out a priest to cover for one in the hospital for two weeks. I stopped going to what I thought was going to be daily Mass, when permutations of the Communion Service were offered. The only good to come out of it was that one young layman, who conducted three of these, had better sermons than the priest. He was allowed to comment on the Gospel without being a deacon, which I thought was interesting.

    And, my final comment, the absolute worst scenario, and I realize that there is at least a 1,000 year precedent for this, is the convent Eucharistic Service. I imagine when nuns used to do this, there was some sort of discipline. Not now. The words are made up and the nuns where I have attended, have been less than worshipful, using the inclusive language. The entire process of moving away from Mass is bad, and I, for one, think there should be no Communion Services at all, as these are so open to abuse and confusion.

  32. Nerinab says:

    Anon. Seminarian,

    From the bulletin that Fr. Z linked to:

    “On a somewhat sad note, I returned home last weekend to
    learn that Fr. Cosgrove, who has said two weekdays Masses for us
    regularly since the fall of 2002, has decided to slow down in his retirement
    and will no longer be our weekday presider.”

    Also notice on the front page of the bulletin, the pastoral adminstrator’s name is listed first and then the priest is listed below her with the title “Sacramental Minister” and that is all you need to know about the diocese I call home. Priests have become nothing but sacramental Pez dispensers. There is no concept of priest as “father” or “spiritual leader” or “shepherd” of his flock. Nope. No need. Lay people can do all that pastoral stuff. Just make sure Father shows up to consecrate some Hosts once in a while.

    At my church it is always “presider,” and “liturgy.” At my church, the liturgy director referred to Eucharistic Adoration as “a show.” At my church traditional devotions are seen as “quaint” at best and retrogressive at worst. Fr. Z’s take is right on the money.

  33. KristenB says:

    I am currently engaged in an online debate with a woman from the Diocese of Albany. She claims to work as an evangelist for a new diocese initiative called “Amazing God” and as a youth minister.
    If any of that is true- I am so afraid for the people learning from her!
    And she claims the bishop of Albany supports womens’ ordination and homosexual unions! It makes my heart stop in fear for all of those in his flock!

    And now this!?
    Our Lady of Priests, pray for us!
    St. John Vianny, pray for us!

  34. JohnE says:

    I lead Communion Services for several years until I became uncomfortable with it, especially in light of Redemptionis Sacramentum (#162-167).

  35. mdinan says:

    Thanks for bringing this to wider attention, Father! The Diocese of Rochester needs all the prayers your readers can muster. This is certainly not a unique attitude locally–multiple parishes are run by women’s ordination conference members, and other lay heretics.


    There’s lots of those here in Rochester, and Bishop Clark is pretty public in his support of both of those issues. Bishop Hubbard is about his best friend among the bishops. It stands to reason that this woman is probably telling the truth.

  36. benedetta says:

    “O, Albany.” The damage done in these nearby dioceses where leadership shares a certain kind of bizarre and self-schooled “synergy” cannot be underestimated or fathomed. Put it this way, all of the things that sound like the radical extreme are, for this locale, commonplace and quite standard. A basic, bare-bones, innocuous faith is marginalized. An entire generation raised in the approach has fallen away. The older generations have been shamed into acceptance and fear of being identified as being the oh so demonized “pre-Vatican II”. The place wreaks of invented, Orwellian terminology, a churchy code, and an entirely fabricated theology. It has long been out of step with leaders of the American church, let alone Rome itself. Most in positions of authority proclaim this alternate reality with great vigor and it is the current stance that in essence the magisterium simply does not exist. The only magisterium taught is that of the almighty personal conscience, as forlornly formed as it is. What you might find where the faith is flourishing and young vocations are up, are nowhere to be found and that is a choice which has been made and that the good people must bear out. By the very standards of what a vibrant faith ought to be which the place has promulgated for itself, it is convicted.

    Patronesses of those who are ridiculed for their piety,
    Saint Joan of Arc,
    Saint Rose of Lima,
    Pray for us!

    Our Lady of Guadalupe,
    Pray for us!

  37. JohnE says:

    I think what I came to dislike about Communion Services is that they reduce awareness of the need for priests. There is also something about them that seems like self-service Communion, which just seems wrong. There was even one lady who had to leave before Mass/CS on some days and she would have an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion take a host from the Tabernacle and give her Communion before she went to work. Thankfully that practice was stopped. I think frequent Communion Service can encourage such casualness though.

  38. Childermass says:

    I’m sure she is telling the truth. Anyone living in these upstate NY dioceses know how bad it has gotten. In my upstate diocese, as I have mentioned before, the cathedral bookshop (located in the nave) sells books by Joan Chittister, Hans Kung and John Shelby Spong (among others).

    I have been to parishes in those parts where the congregation self-communes (congregants at one parish receive the host from a lay “communion minister” and then dunk it themselves into a glass chalice held by another “communion minister”; at another parish I’ve seen elderly female “communion ministers” pass out wicker baskets of hosts from pew to pew, for people to take from and pass to the next person, while the “presider” sits in his chair). So there you are, laypeople are even welcome to encroach on the sacrament-dispenser role of priests.

    Prayers for new Catholic bishops to begin to repair the incalculable damage in these upstate dioceses, whose unhappy “shepherds” have killed vocations and closed a shocking number of parishes.

  39. Joseph-Mary says:

    In my former diocese there was a push to have such ‘communion services’ and, truth be told, even most daily commicants were just fine with it, saying “we got what we came for”. Except they did not participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! And we were treated once to a woman leading a communion service on a Sunday but I think there were enough complaints that it did not happen again. And there were priests available but I heard it said that they wanted the laity to get used to not having a priest. And in all the dioceses with that mindset, it seems a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Poor upperstate New York! So many years of desolation! Soon, may there soon be relief for whatever faithful are left. It can happen. It has happened, not easily, in Saginaw but the return to faithfulness is not without fallout and resistance at every turn. I have experienced many of the abuses mentioned but perhaps not to that terrible degree.

    I left my unfaithful, Catholic in name only, parish and diocese. I moved to where the Catholic faith reigns with the only drawback being no convenient access to the Traditional Latin Mass.

  40. Aengus Oshaughnessy says:

    There have been some comments here that people are trying to do away with priests. . . Well, there are some lads already doing just that. For a first-hand look, go to http://ericsimmons.com/blog/2010/11/18/ny-times-the-pope-is-darth-vadar/.

  41. nanetteclaret says:

    Here is an address that might be helpful:


  42. TJerome says:

    I went to the parishes website. Sad

  43. TJerome says:

    I noticed Charlotte gives herself top billing on the bulletin and refers to the priest as the “Sacramental Minister.” What a loon

  44. Thomas S says:


    I went to the website, too. Sad, indeed.

    Click on the “Returning the Keys to the Kingdom” link. It’s a short video. Bizarre.

  45. benedetta says:

    In Albany the office of prayer and worship is headed up by a lay woman with a master’s degree. I guess saying the black and doing the red is way too much to ask.

  46. Dr. K says:

    In Albany the office of prayer and worship is headed up by a lay woman with a master’s degree. I guess saying the black and doing the red is way too much to ask.

    Very similar to the situation in Rochester. In our diocese, the vocations director, the head of our St. Bernard’s theologate (where our deacons and “lay ministers” are educated), and the Vice Chancellor and bishop’s master of ceremonies are all women. The first of these is the most problematic considering our failure to produce vocations to the priesthood. Over the next three years, beginning with this one, we will have only 1 ordination to the priesthood; and that ordination will be a converted Protestant minister. We have failed miserably in helping young men to answer the call.

  47. TJerome says:

    I truly feel sorry for the people of these parishes. They are being robbed of their right to authentic, orthodox Catholicism by these rank, “new age” type amateurs. They just don’t understand the amount of damage they have done to the Faith.

  48. As of 3:52, Eastern, the “Parish Staff” link on the website in question is down. I’m interested in seeing if any changes are made when (if?) it comes back up.

  49. catholicmidwest says:

    I’ll drive as far as I possibly can to get to a priest and a real mass. But if the time ever comes when I can’t do that, then there will be no point in traipsing off to a prayer meeting led by a dissident. I’ll go looking for the Greek Orthodox if that ever happens.

  50. benedictgal says:

    All of this nonsense seems to beg this question: Why has Rome not intervened? Surely the CDWSDS has been inundated with reports of the shenanigans going on in Rochester. I used to think that all of this was an urban legend whenever I would read the reports on the Catholic Answers Forum. It makes me wonder about some of the episcopal appointments made by Pope John Paul II. It seems to me that perhaps they were not properly vetted. Inasmuch as I appreciate Pope John Paul II, I hate to say this, but, some of his stateside appointments have turned into duds and Pope Benedict XVI has had to clean up the messes. Rochester needs to move to the top of the list.

  51. benedictgal says:

    I posted the item on my blog. Someone responded by saying that “Sacramental Minister” is the term that is used in the Diocese of Rochester. It seems to me that no one at the Chancery has read Ecclesia de Mysterio which defines the proper terms and roles for both the clergy and the faithful. After a quick reading of the document, I do not see the term “Sacramental Minister” as one used for a priest. In fact, I do not think that the term even shows up in Ecclesia de Mysterio.

    Maybe someone with better eyes can see it because I sure can’t. Here is the link to the document:


  52. benedictgal says:

    Here is how the lay administrator describes herself in the profile link provided by the Priest’s Secretary blog:

    Appointed by Bishop Matthew H. Clark to “pastor” St. Vincent de Paul Church in Churchville, New York – now in my final (of three) four-year terms.

    I would not even use the term “pastor” in quotation marks. This is just plain wrong. Maybe someone should send her a copy of Ecclesia de Mysterio.

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