This past weekend, my family was at the beach. We always frequent the same Catholic parish while on vacation. The church is usually crowded and my daughter especially loves the Catholic trinkets gift shop in the back. This church can easily be identified by flipping through the pages of the bulletin and reading about the many active organizations they have: Knights of Columbus, Ladies of Charity, Ancient Order of Hibernians, Sons and Daughters of Ireland…..
Catch my drift? Being a beach town, the parish is filled with the local retirement community. As I’m walking into Mass, I hear a woman muttering under her breath. She is walking alone and carrying a cup of coffee and her rosary. Her muttering gets louder and louder as we approach the church doors. I can’t help myself but to glance over in her direction and listen more intently as I catch her saying, “This is so $%*&$% ridiculous. I can’t $#%^$ take it. This is torture!” Attempting to cover my child’s ears and quickly hustle into church, I hear the usher at the front doors apologizing that worshipers can only enter through the middle doors due to new Diocesan policy.
It later came to our attention that the Diocese was implementing a safety policy to prevent active shooter scenarios. NOW it all made sense!! The elderly parishioner’s torture wasn’t going to Mass, but it was having to enter the center doors rather than the multiple side entrances that used to be available. What torture!
Resistance to change is rampant in church culture. I witnessed this perfect example and was utterly shocked in the moment. I couldn’t get over why this woman was swearing like a pirate on the church steps while the pastor was in earshot (probably intentional). Why did she go in? Why does she keep dragging herself to Mass if she is so offended by the new policies in place? And why did she have a coffee in hand?!?
Not being a member of this diocese, I don’t know how the policy was rolled out or how it affects the various details of the parish life; however, what I do know is that I want to feel safe going to Mass. I am all in favor of having one entrance to a church where a team of ushers are greeting each and every person walking in. I am all in favor of my children growing up with this being “normal” so that they know their leaders, pastors and principals, place safety as a top priority. The security in our parishes and schools must be excellent. It’s not longer an after thought, it’s an expectation. Time to change and quit complaining about it!