One of two churches that comprise the parish, the two congregations having merged in 2001. It is a light colored Romanesque brick building. The church area was mainly a square large expanse that could probably seat 600. On the left and right sides are seven stained glass windows, each with six panels of stained glass high. There is also a rose window over the entrance. Beneath the rose window there is a choir loft, but the organ console and a piano sit in the sanctuary, and the choir sang from there also. On either side of the altar are statues of Mary and Jesus.
The parish draws people from all over South Bend, including some blighted areas. The people that we talked to at the reception were middle aged, cheerful, and articulate. Some were of Polish origin; one of us sang in a Polish church in the past and reminisced with one of the third-generation Polish members. The school recently expanded and now offers classes from kindergarten through eighth grade.
South Bend is a city in northern Indiana. Once a major industrial seat and the home of such icons as the Studebaker automobile factory, the city declined as the 20th century waned, and the empty shells of some of the old factories stand as a reminder of former greatness, as do several once-tidy residential neighborhoods now gone to seed. The University of Notre Dame, a separate political entity from the city, is a lush, green oasis in stark contrast to its surroundings. The church is located in an area of small homes, some of which could use repairs, off a main street in South Bend.
The Revd Adam D. Booth, CSC (whom we Shipmates know as Hart), was the principal celebrant of a concelebrated mass, many of whom were Hart's friends from the seminary. Hart, who had been ordained the previous day, was celebrating his first mass. Also assisting were several seminarians not yet in holy orders.
What was the name of the service?Mass.
How full was the building?
Filled with people, a broad spectrum from elderly to babies. Hart, who had served as a deacon in this parish, is a well loved member of the community.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, a greeter.
Was your pew comfortable?
Ordinary wooden seats with kneelers.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
We were a little late, as we had gone to the "other" church in the parish first. We arrived to find a nice reverential attitude. Mothers with children went to the crying room on the side well, some of them did anyway (read on!).
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The hardbound Gather hymnal found in many Catholic churches that take their music seriously. Plastic sheet with the mass responses.
What musical instruments were played?
Organ, piano, and single head African drum.
Did anything distract you?
An occasional screaming child in the congregation. They had very good lungs I'll give them that!
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Middle of the road. Hart performed his priestly duties like a pro perhaps some website has had a good influence on him?
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 – Hart's years spent in the United States have not erased his charming British accent. He spoke clearly and understandably, in well developed sentences with logical structure.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Hart spoke on the day's readings, Acts 2:42-47 (the fellowship of believers) and John 20:19-31 (the risen Jesus appears to the Twelve). He mentioned the "dream sessions" that the parish had recently undertaken for strategic planning, and wondered what Luke and John would have thought had they wandered into one. Luke would have marveled at the parish's willingness to share their bounty with those in need. John would have noted that the parishioners, like the Apostles, experience personal encounters with the Divine through the sacraments and in their lives. Hart said that he is thrilled to be beginning his priestly ministry in this parish, where he can help the world see Christ's love.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The repetition of the song sung at the ordination ceremony yesterday: "I have been anointed", complete with drums.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
But sadly the choir, although good, included no men's voices. And some of the crying infants were exceptionally loud. Also, there was something wrong with the sound system. The quality began to degrade at the start of the eucharistic prayer, and by the time of the dismissal it was totally gone.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Hart told us that the church ladies had set out a brunch in the school's basketball court and that we should be sure to go, that he would see us there.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Fruit; egg quiches in assorted flavors like sausage, crab and asparagus as well as vegetarian, cheese, and gluten free; pastries. Coffee and orange juice to drink (but no tea). And a delicious cake! Those church ladies sure can bake!
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 – Hart's first mass, as well as all of the events of the weekend, were just wonderful! We non-Catholics were happy to be here. We had met many of the participants when Hart professed his vows several months back, and it was good to see them again.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
We'll never forget the whole ordination weekend.