Mystery Worshipper: Amanda B. Reckondwyth
Church: Ordination to the Diaconate, Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Location: Moreau Seminary, Notre Dame, Indiana, USA
Date of visit: Sunday, 8 September 2013, 10:30am
The ceremony was held in the Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, where the seminarians gather several times a day for mass and the liturgy of the hours. It is a large, brick walled room with vaulted ceiling and tile floor. The chapels most prominent feature is the east wall, consisting of purple and blue stained glass panels depicting the angels of the Apocalypse.
From their website: "Moreau Seminary [is] named after Blessed Basil Moreau, CSC, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross. It serves as the major seminary for the Congregation in the United States. Seminarians live at Moreau and take their courses at the University of Notre Dame."
Notre Dame is a "census-designated place" within the city of South Bend, Indiana, about 90 miles east of Chicago. It is the home of three institutions of higher learning: Notre Dame University, St Marys College, and Holy Cross College, as well as three religious communities: the Sisters of Holy Cross, the Midwest Province of Brothers of Holy Cross, and the Indiana Province of Priests and Brothers of Holy Cross. The entire Notre Dame campus is very bucolic, with lakes, grottos and shady groves all around. Moreau Seminary is situated across St Josephs Lake and just a quarter mile walk from the center of the campus.
The Most Revd Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Indianapolis, presided, along with a large number of concelebrating priests. The Revd Thomas J. OHara, CSC, Provincial Superior, United States Province, Congregation of Holy Cross, was the presentor. Lectors, acolytes, archbishops attendants, etc. were all named in the program but are too numerous to list here.
What was the name of the service?Ordination to the Diaconate.
How full was the building?
I counted room for about 200 in the pews. About 50 chairs had been set up behind the last row of pews to accommodate additional people. The room was about 95 per cent full.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Seminarians dressed in black suits greeted everyone at the door and handed them a program.
Was your pew comfortable?
I elected to sit in a chair, which was comfortable. The pews looked comfortable enough.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
People sat in silence. A men's quartet in the gallery sang the Gregorian chant Ave Maria and a four-part hymn that I did not recognize.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning and welcome."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
A program booklet.
What musical instruments were played?
Grand piano and very richly voiced organ. In addition to the aforementioned quartet, a schola cantorum of about 20 men sang a communion hymn.
Did anything distract you?
I had my hands full as I fumbled the booklet, my camera, and notepad and pen. Thank goodness there was a ledge in front of my chair where I could lay things down when I had to.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Aside from the ceremonial associated with ordination, it was a run-of-the-mill novus ordo mass done with grace and dignity. No bells or incense, but the archbishop chanted most of the service in a very rich baritone. We sang two standard hymns ("Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" as the entrance hymn and "Lift High the Cross" as the recessional), but the rest of the music, for the most part, leaned more toward Singing Nun (or should I say Singing Brother?) stuff than did the music at yesterday's service. The provincial superior presented the diaconal candidates to the archbishop, who laid hands on them, recited the prayer of ordination over them, vested them in dalmatic and stole, and gave them the book of gospels. They then assisted at mass in the role usually taken by a deacon.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – Archbishop Tobin delivered a well crafted homily but read most of it from notes. He said that he, too, is a member of a religious community, the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, better known as the Redemptorist Fathers. He also lightened his talk with quite a bit of dry humor.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The archbishop commented on the readings for the day (Wisdom 9:13-18b - the body weighs down the soul; Philemon 1:9-10, 12-17 - aul sends Onesimus to Philemon as a free man; and Luke 14:25-33 - to be a disciple of Christ we must give up all), relating them to the ordained ministry. Our role is to imitate Christ, to do what Jesus did: teach, heal. This is what deacons do. It is through the ministry that we know God.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Miss Amanda is very pleased to report that there was not a white sock, sneaker, or jeans to be seen under anyone's cassock or alb!
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The acoustics in the chapel are not the best, and I wasn't sure if microphones were being used, but I struggled to hear most of what the archbishop was saying in his homily. Not only that, but the lighting also left something to be desired. Light coming in through the stained glass behind the altar made it difficult to see the action sometimes, and well nigh impossible to photograph it.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Everyone adjourned to the courtyard outdoors where a buffet luncheon had been laid out.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
I didn't stay for the luncheon, however, as I had to get to the airport. I left my Mystery Worshipper calling card on the table reserved for the family of our Shipmate, Deacon Hart.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 – If I lived in the area I would be curious to see what ordinary Sunday services are like in the chapel.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. As the archbishop said in his sermon, we see God through ministry.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
The sight of the Revd Deacon whom we Shipmates call Hart making the chalice as expertly as if he had been at it for years! Something (perhaps some website?) has clearly had a positive effect on his ecclesiastical upbringing.