The exterior is somewhat irregular and large; the building houses both the church and school. There are large trees on the grounds rather close to the edifice, and the building seems larger from inside than one might expect from the outside. The interior is one of the prettiest modern church buildings I have seen. The baptistery was especially pretty, with the infant Jesus held by Mary Queen of Heaven against a backdrop of the sun's rays. There is ample space, much wood and brick with stained glass to enlighten but not distract. The Stations of the Cross around the church were large, but were well proportioned to the space.
The community seem interested in offering their people a sacramental life and equipping them for service. I was particularly impressed that a parish penance service was announced at which eleven priests would be present to hear confessions. There is also much opportunity for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and frequent daily offices.
Mishawaka is a city of some 48,000 people in northern Indiana. It is located east of South Bend, home of the University of Notre Dame. Mishawaka calls itself the Princess City after Princess Mishawaka, daughter of the Suwanee Chief Elkhart. A story about her white beau, Deadshot, and the princess's abduction by her Indian suitor, Gray Wolf, is told on an historical marker in Lincoln Park.
The Revd John Eze, pastor, was celebrant and preacher. Brad Todorovich was the organist.
What was the name of the service?Mass.
How full was the building?
Perhaps 80 to 100 persons in a space that could hold many more.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A smile from someone in the narthex was the closest thing to a greeting I got before the peace.
Was your pew comfortable?
Standard pew with fold-down kneeler. Quite comfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quiet and prayerful. Some children were present and they were making some sound, but nothing too distracting.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Gather II pew edition with melody only. Most of the music and mass setting were found in a locally produced leaflet covering the Advent season.
What musical instruments were played?
Electronic organ, played competently.
Did anything distract you?
While the people were making their communion, a teenaged server was busy folding a corporal. He looked intently at the linens as if he were putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It was cheerily formal. The whole service was celebrated at a brisk yet unhurried pace. It was the type of service that seemed so normal, I wonder if the regular attendees knew how extraordinary it really is.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – Father John spoke earnestly in a friendly style. I believe he had notes, but he didn't seem to refer to them. Since the Immaculate Conception is the patroness of the United States, we were admonished to pray for the country.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Christ gave his church the authority to teach the truth about the kingdom of God. In the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, we encounter truth about the nature of God, the creation, and the economy of salvation. As Thomas Aquinas and Augustine suggest, "First believe, then you shall understand."
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The people singing the mass setting together in unison, particularly the Sanctus and Agnus Dei, sung in Latin unaccompanied, to the Gregorian Chant setting known as Missa XVIII Deus Genitor Alme in the Liber Usualis.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The Advent purple and pink church hangings, and the Marian white and blue vestments, presented a contrast. To top it all off, the altar frontal was a tapestry of mostly white with red, green, and gold. The pastiche of holy drapery looked like the altar guild was displaying all the colors it could.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Not much. I hung around, took a couple pictures, and looked about.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
None seemed to be available.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 – I felt welcome, but I wasn't the center of attention. Jesus and Mary were.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
The cheerful worshipfulness of the space and the people.