We went to church for the first time in weeks, our first stop on the search for a new church.
You would think we would just go to the nearest Catholic church, but then you wouldn’t know the Twin Cities very well. Today we went to a church that is about 3 miles away from our home, which means we opted not to attend two or three Catholic churches that are closer. In our old parish neighborhood there were maybe 6 large parishes in a 3-mile radius. If you listen to Prairie Home Companion, as I do (and did today), you might think that all Minnesotans are Lutherans, but there are also a *lot* of Catholics. And back when there were immigrants from Europe of many different nationalities arriving here, each group built their own Catholic church.
In short, you don’t have to be a persnickity “church shopper” to find yourself choosing a church.
Today’s church’s patron saint was a skeptic, which makes it a nice choice. It’s also in a lovely area right behind a co-op to which we still have a membership from our pre-kid days, near a Waldorf-y toy store, coffee shops, a bread bakery (as opposed to a sweets bakery), and other nice things.
Also on the plus side, I saw a lot of kids. I have learned and changed my views on things like Sunday school, and now think kids should be celebrating Mass with parents, and I’m glad this parish also takes that view. I particularly noticed a lot of middle school kids, which we are always happy to see. Sometimes it seems that by the time kids reach middle school families have moved to the suburbs, and city neighborhoods are full of babies.
The homily was fine — nothing too challenging or profound, but nothing insulting either, which is a good start. The pastor told a Buddhist story relating to the homily’s theme of service, so I took that as a sign of relative open-mindedness.
On the downside: first, the church has been remodeled, and not all that well. The outside is lovely, but the inside feels kind of like an airplane hangar. All hard, cold, new surfaces, no color. The arrangement of the ambo (pulpit) and altar is odd — it took a long time for me to figure out how the church was oriented. It doesn’t add much to the experience of the liturgy, and of course I am spoiled by having attended an absolutely gorgeous church with a deep sense of (regional and salvation) history etched into every post, buttress, and tiny chapel.
Another downside: the church is affiliated with a school. My experience and that many friends is that if your children do not attend the parish school, it is nearly impossible to get involved in parish life. I say this as one who was co-chair of our parish council, and I am backed up by two other women who were co-chairs of our parish council — that is, it was not for lack of effort on our part that we found it hard to get connected.
The music: well, let’s just say that church music generally requires lowering the bar a bit, unless maybe you are a Presbyterian or Methodist with a paid choir (as many are around here). Still, while I’m no traditionalist, my old parish did give me a taste for a little more variety, and not *all* modern hymns.
So, we’ll go back next week and check out their Donut Sunday. Then I think we’ll try a couple of other churches. And maybe we’ll pop into our old church now and again. I would love to be settled into our house and a church before Christmas, but something tells me we will still be pilgrims on December 25th.