St Pius X, Chula Vista, CA

St Pius X, Chula Vista, California, USA


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Mystery Worshipper:
Church: St Pius X
Location: Chula Vista, California, USA
Date of visit: Sunday, 25 March 2018, 10:00am

The building

The parish was formed in 1955 and held its first mass in a rented house. The church building was finished that same year and the rectory and parish hall followed two years later. It is in the Spanish Mission style, similar to many buildings in southern California. The architect was Percy Burnham, who also designed a local department store, civic theater and Masonic temple; St Pius X was his last work before his death. The church was remodeled extensively but rather haphazardly over the years. In 2007 the San Diego firm of Lord Architecture Inc. was awarded a contract for upgrading and reorganization of the church, school and parish hall.

The church

They sponsor a chapter of the Knights of Columbus. There is also an Altar Society and Rosary Society. The Consolation Committee provides bereavement support. The St Pius X school, originally staffed by the Sisters of St Clare, is now staffed entirely by laypersons. The parish hall is available for weddings, retreats and banquets. There are five Sunday masses in English and one in Spanish, plus the Saturday vigil mass. One mass is celebrated each weekday. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is held each day in the St Jude Chapel.

The neighborhood

Chula Vista is a southerly suburb of San Diego about halfway between downtown San Diego and the Mexican border. The city is rich in cultural attractions as well as dining, shopping and recreational venues. The church is set in a neighborhood of middle class homes.

The cast

The Revd Corey Tufford, associate pastor.

What was the name of the service?

Palm Sunday Mass.

How full was the building?

The church was full. There were a lot of families in attendance as well as single people and couples.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

I was welcomed at the door with a hello and handed a palm.

Was your pew comfortable?

The pew was standard Catholic issue pew. In other words, just a wooden bench with a padded kneeler.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

Everyone was talking pre-mass. It was a very chatty congregation.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"We have waited through Lent for this day with acts of kindness."

What books did the congregation use during the service?

The books were the gold Breaking Bread with Daily Mass Propers 2018.

What musical instruments were played?


Did anything distract you?

I was a bit distracted by all the talking pre-mass as it made it feel a bit not like church should be.

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

The service was standard Catholic mass with very nice singing.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

10 minutes.

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

8 – Father Corey was very excited by this being the first time he had preached at Palm Sunday mass. He mentioned this to us.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

The sermon was about the experience of handing yourself over to God as Jesus did. There were two parts to this. The first part was humility. Jesus by his actions emptied himself. The second part is glory. Not earthly glory, which is what Jesus got when he was glorified going into the city a week before Easter, but heavenly glory. Earthly glory is to be considered fool's gold and not eternal. Jesus' true self was "enthroned" on the cross. He emptied himself for us and for God's glory. This heavenly glory is victory over sin and death, which is the real meaning of Easter.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

At communion, there was a singer who sang a cappella and it was totally beautiful. What a treat!

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

Well, all the talking before mass was a bit much.

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

A lot of people were standing about talking amongst themselves. I stood but no one approached me. Catholics tend not to have fellowship after mass.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

Please see above.

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

10 – If I lived in the San Diego area, I would have no trouble making this my parish.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

This service made me very happy to be back home in a Catholic church.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?

I will remember that I enjoyed this church and thought it was very vibrant.

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