Special Year of Faith liturgy gives thanks to laypeople who assist at Mass
Story and photos by Peggy Weber
WESTFIELD – The end of the Year of Faith was marked Oct. 14 with a celebration of thanks at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish, here.
The 2 p.m. Mass was organized by the Diocesan Pastoral Council with the assistance of Sister of St. Joseph Paula Robillard, director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Springfield.
“We were looking for a way to close the Year of Faith and I said that closing something is not a real celebration, but what else can we build into this?” said Dick Butler, chairman of the Diocesan Pastoral Council.
He said that Sister Paula said they should conclude the Year of Faith with a Mass recognizing all the people who make the Mass special and help out in parishes.
The more than 200 who gathered for the liturgy were eucharistic ministers, lectors, sacristans, ushers, choir members, catechists, parish council members and adult altar servers.
“I thank you all individually and collectively. You represent a number of people who each day, in different ways, give of themselves so that the good news might be proclaimed and Christ might be made present in our lives,” said Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell, celebrant.
He asked the different groups to raise their hands as he called out the category of lector or server. He joked when the ushers raised their hands that there would not be a collection at this Mass. He added that every group he mentioned was “caught up” in the Gospel which was the story of Jesus meeting two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
The bishop also spoke about the importance of saying thank you.
“As part of the Year of Faith celebration, they (the Diocesan Pastoral Council) suggested that we might try to gather as many as we might to say thank you, because you are the means by which so much is done in parish life,” said Bishop McDonnell.
Rita Stanisiewski, a member of Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Easthampton, is also a member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council. She helped organize the day and praised the idea.
“I think that this is a token of saying to people that we appreciate your kindness and how you are spreading your faith and love for God in your parishes,” she said.
A member of her parish’s finance council, Stanisiewski said, “I think gratitude is of utmost importance, especially with a lot of people who are doing the behind the scenes work.” She also said it was important that shut-ins and those who could not be at the Mass were remembered that day.
Butler noted that they did not hold the celebration on a Sunday because so many people are involved with their parishes on that day. He said that the good weather and other parish events in the diocese competed with the day but that he was pleased with the turnout.
“The bottom line is the people who are here today are the church and we are celebrating ourselves,” said Butler.
“The people here are the church. They are the people working constantly. It’s not a matter of getting credit because I don’t think any of them do it for credit,” Butler (second from right in photo at right) said. “They do it because they believe and they want to do their part, so a pat on the back is always good and I think that’s what we did today.”
A video version of this story is scheduled to air on the Nov. 2 edition of “Real to Reel,” which airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.