"Sure, there are good Catholic people and churches all over. But, as is often the case, you don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it."
No Embarrassment of Riches down South
By Susan Piening and Frank Trotta
When we, like many in Connecticut, decided enough was enough and it was time to move away from high taxes, left-wing politicians, traffic nightmares and too much snow, we knew we would be losing one irreplaceable treasure – St. John’s and its wonderful people.
Sure, there are good Catholic people and churches all over. But, as is often the case, you don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it. We didn’t expect to find clones of our wonderful priests or a structure at beautiful as the Basilica or a reprise of the robust and rich deep faith formation of St. John’s, but we thought ourselves fortunate that our new home was right across the street from a Catholic church in one of the oldest Dioceses in the United States.
However, that church is staffed with a single priest who lives in a community miles away. It has only three weekday Masses – and those at the inconvenient hour of 9:30 a.m. The next closest Catholic church – a Vietnamese parish – is 7.29 miles away with a weekday Mass at 6 p.m., or 11 miles away at a traditional Catholic college run by Benedictine monks with a daily Mass, depending on whether school is in session, at 11 a.m. or 5 p.m.
Daily Mass-goers, you try planning your day around THOSE times.
On the other hand, a search of MassTimes.org shows that there are 30 Catholic churches within 7.55 miles of our Connecticut house. Indeed, the daily Mass options we have been spoiled with in Connecticut are truly an embarrassment of riches.
Within five miles of our Connecticut place there are 27 daily Masses: four at 7 a.m.; four at 7:30 a.m.; one at 7:45 a.m.; five at 8 a.m.; one at 8:30 a.m.; four at 9 a.m.; one at 12:05 p.m.; one at 12:10 p.m.; one at 5:15 p.m.; one at 5:30 p.m.; a Polish and a Spanish Mass each at 7 p.m.; and an English Mass at 7:30 p.m. There are practically more daily Masses than Metro North trains. And the Masses are certainly more punctual, not to mention transporting you to a far better place!
The Sunday Mass and confession schedules in both locales follows suit. A plethora at St. John’s; a dearth down south. I guess the adage about missing the water when the well runs dry can be adapted to say, “You don’t miss the Holy Water until you move away!”
But St. John’s is so much more than Mass and confession. It is a true community of believers who live their faith day-in and day-out. And that is precisely the recipe Rod Dreher calls for in his much-discussed book, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation.
By now you are probably wondering, “So why move?” To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, “Some see things; and say, ‘Why?’ Others dream things that never were; and say, ‘Why not?’” Maybe, just maybe, we might be able to bring a little bit of St. John’s with us to our new home.
There is plenty of opportunity. The new pastor at the local parish is bringing in top-notch speakers for adult faith formation. There are two deacons to help the sole priest. And the neighborhood parish is growing so fast that the church has plans to double the size of its building.
If getting to daily Mass means driving extra miles, so what? At last check, gas is only $1.88 a gallon down there! Besides, if our St. John friends need a reprieve from the snow, they will have a warm place to visit. “Y’all come on down.”
The Trottas are parishioners of the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist.