St Mark's, Attleboro Falls, MA

St Mark's, Attleboro Falls, Massachusetts, USA


Info and corrections →

Mystery Worshipper:
Church: St Mark's
Location: Attleboro Falls, Massachusetts, USA
Date of visit: Sunday, 11 March 2018, 8:30am

The building

The church consists of a small plain church, very large parking lot, and parish center. The parish is just over 50 years old so the church would most likely date to around 1968. The interior is "T" shaped with a central altar and two side sections for seating that would leave the parishioners looking at the side of the altar.

The church

Their ministries are listed on their website. Among them are men's and women's groups and a chapter of the Knights of Columbus. There are two Sunday masses plus the Saturday vigil mass. There is one mass each weekday, alternating between the main church and the chapel.

The neighborhood

Attleboro Falls is a very old historically blue-collar section of the city of Attleboro, which was once known as the jewelry capital of New England. For many years a number of large jewelry companies drew immigrants to the area for steady work. Today Attleboro, which is located on a major commuter line near the junction of two major highways, functions as an affordable bedroom community and working class hub roughly mid-way between Boston and Providence. There are a number of older homes built in the 18th and 19th century and many mid-20th century homes that were likely built during the post World War II housing boom.

The cast

An unnamed Dominican priest celebrated mass. There are two Dominican priests listed in the bulletin as "weekend assistants," so take your pick. The parishioners appeared to be familiar with him, but unfortunately I could not find his name anywhere. He was assisted by the Revd Deacon Juan Carlos Muñoz, who I understand is a transitional deacon (i.e., on his way toward ordination as a priest). There were two male servers, a male lector, a cantor and organist. Two elderly extraordinary ministers, one male and one female, assisted at communion.

What was the name of the service?

Sunday Mass.

How full was the building?

About half full, maybe a bit more. The odd configuration made it tough to gauge how many people were in the side sections. It should also be noted that it was the Sunday after the clocks changed and we lost an hour of sleep, so some regular attendees may have opted for a later mass. There was no cry room so many ages were represented.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

Yes. A smiling older gentleman in a suit said, "Good morning and welcome." The same man also handed us a bulletin.

Was your pew comfortable?

Yes, pretty standard for a newer Catholic church. Kneelers in good shape, not too squished, and plenty of room for my belly when I knelt.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

Quiet, very nice actually.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"Good morning, everyone."

What books did the congregation use during the service?

An Oregon Catholic Press hymnal.

What musical instruments were played?

Electric organ situated to the left of the altar and set back so as not to draw attention. There was also a cantor.

Did anything distract you?

Two small things. When I entered, I began to genuflect as I habitually do, but caught myself as I did not see a tabernacle behind the altar. I then noted it was off to the side, and so I turned to genuflect accordingly. Quick recovery. And I thought the cantor's microphone was just a hair too loud. When everyone sang "Amazing Grace" on the way in it was OK, but there wasn't much singing after that so it was a bit overwhelming. I wondered if the acoustics of the church would have allowed for no microphone (I doubt it).

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

Formal: priest and deacon fully vested; servers in white robes. It being Laetare Sunday, we got the traditional rose vestments (often mislabeled pink). No campfire songs or people flopping on the floor speaking in tongues.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

8 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

8 – The priest employed good, pleasant tone and projection. Given that he is a member of the Order of Preachers, as the Dominicans are known, I would expect no less.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

Primarily John 3:14 ("God so loved the world ..." – the translation left out the word "begotten"). In the modern era we need to give up so little for God. No matter how strict our Lenten pilgrimage is, it is nothing compared to what God gave.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

The entrance hymn of "Amazing Grace" – people sang, which Catholics don't tend to do in New England (or elsewhere for that matter). It was a nice surprise.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?

The cantor intoned the wrong psalm, which threw me off my game.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?

We didn't hang around, as we had a birthday party to get to. It took me an extra minute or two to get my six-year-old daughter situated in the back seat of the car, and I apologized to the woman parked next to us for temporarily blocking her vehicle. She gave me a nice bright smile and assured me that she did not feel inconvenienced. Oddly seemed to make my day.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

There was none.

How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

8 – I'm not a huge fan of the physical aspects of the building, but the hymns were not bad and I got a nice impression of the congregation.

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 recessional: "The Church's One Foundation." Darned if I am not still singing it to myself. My home parish features Muzak-type stuff.

Our Mystery Worshippers are volunteers who warm church pews for us around the world. If you’d like to become a Mystery Worshipper, start here.

Find out how to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.

Comments and corrections

To comment, please scroll to the end of this report and add your thoughts there. To send us factual corrections, please contact us. We also discuss reports on our Ecclesiantics bulletin board.

© Ship of Fools