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Thoughts Along the Way

Fr. Matthew O'Leary's Weekly Bulletin Column

August 13, 2017


For some time we have known that the anticipated loss of Fr. Peter Tynan’s weekend assistance as early as November 2017, or as late as June 2018, will necessitate changes to our weekend Mass schedule.  The main problem will be the impossibility of one priest (currently me, as pastor) celebrating two 10:30am Sunday Masses at the two churches. 

Other issues play into scheduling realities—the travel time between the two communities, the number of people at the various weekend Masses; the scheduling of religious education/faith formation, youth groups, Confirmation, and other parish events involving the pastor’s participation; parking and meeting space limitations at Holy Disciples, and so on.

Here is an update on what is happening.


For some time we have needed need more time between the Sunday morning Masses.  Our parking lot and 187th Street E are experiencing bottlenecks, as 8:30am Mass empties, and 10:30am Mass-goers arrive.  The taxing of 187th Street is all the more acute as the neighborhood grows by the Lipoma Firs development’s addition of hundreds of new homes.  We can also use more time separating faith formation classes between the respective end and beginning of Masses.

These past few weeks, I have asked for input from Holy Disciples’ Mass-goers about doing what we do at Easter for this parking problem, which is spacing Masses at 8:30 and 11:00.  I also suggested an 8:00 and 10:30 schedule to keep Sunday programs starting at Noon, while members of the Discipleship and Pastoral Council suggested splitting the difference to 8:15 and 10:45.

We collected parishioner responses these past two weeks.  Most people did not respond—which I take as implicit support for doing whatever we need to do. Of those who did respond, many supported 8:15am and 10:45am, if judged necessary, but the solid majority expressed preference for 8:00am and 10:30am Sunday Mass times.

In view of these responses, and my broader addressing of the issue these past few months, I feel comfortable settling for the new 8:00am and 10:30am schedule, effective September 2-3.

Holy Disciples New Weekend Mass Schedule

Sunday—8:00am & 10:30am

Effective September 2-3, 2017



Because the distance between the two locations makes it difficult for one priest (the pastor) to preside at three Sunday morning Masses in the two parishes, and because congregants and respective schedules for religious education/faith formation, youth groups, and parish social community time would be disrupted and adversely affected by a significant rescheduling, I have consulted with pastors of our neighboring parishes, the Archdiocesan Vicar for Clergy, and Archbishop Sartain. 

Two proposed solutions have emerged: Change Mass time at Our Lady of Good Counsel to Saturday afternoon or change its pastoral affiliation with a parish other than Holy Disciples.

Last Sunday, I presented this situation and the options to the OLGC community, and asked for our prayerful discussion, reflection, and input over the next few weeks.

“Option 1” would move Mass times at Our Lady of Good Counsel to Saturday at 4:00pm and require Holy Disciples to move to 6:00pm.  This option would allow the two communities to continue to be united under one pastor and pastoral staff, and would not affect the budget of proportionately shared pastoral and administrative expenses.  Risks arise from whether people would commit to the radically new time in their Mass attendance, ministerial service, and financial support.  We also do not know the effects on religious education/faith formation, parish social time, time with the pastor, and youth programs by either separating them from Mass on Sundays, or changing to Saturdays, or another day of the week.

               “Option 2” would keep Our Lady of Good Counsel Mass on Sunday morning—not necessarily at 10:30am—and create a new pastoral partnership with a parish other than Holy Disciples. I would hand this back to the Archdiocese to work out the plan.  This option would minimize change to OLGC’s Sunday life and programs, and likely see continuance of present congregant participation and support of church community.  Risks arise from OLGC’s likely new association with a smaller community, necessitating a significant increase of financial responsibility for its share of pastoral and administrative expenses. 

With Archbishop Sartain’s support, I have asked the OLGC community to express its preference and take ownership of one of the two proposed solutions.  To do this I am suggesting that we follow this plan: (1) Get information, (2) Ask questions, (3) Ask Holy Spirit for guidance, (4) Discuss among Our Lady of Good Counsel community, (5) Pray about what is best for the community rather than individual preferences, (6) Express the community’s decision via parish survey to be conducted in September, and (7) Commit to the chosen solution, which would likely be effective July 1, 2018.

Let us all keep each other in prayer at HD and OLGC during this important time of discernment, since we are all affected by challenging circumstances and potential change.

May we be guided by the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit,

Fr. Matthew O’Leary




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Fr. Matthew began writing columns for this website in February 2015
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