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I am posting this picture just to remind myself that the parish where I am the Pastor is a Catholic Parish. I was forced to remove the Blessed Sacrament from the Church this morning, not simply because there were no expectations that there be appropriate behavior in church during the Graduation exercises, but because I was the one who is considered to be odd because I objected to the Processional, a song proclaimed by a boombox, a song by the title, "Poprocks and Coke."

I am not sure what planet I am on. People think I am the unreasonable one. So they showed a slide show today AND WILL SHOW THE SAME SLIDE SHOW TOMORROW DURING GRADUATION MASS. The Students behaved appropriately during the slide show, which is to say they behaved inappropriately for Church. One slide showed a graduate in a dumpster. Both the Principal and the Eighth grade teacher believe this is appropriate behavior in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

This afternoon, I put the cloths back on the altar, returned the flowers and candles to the tabernacle, returned the Blessed Sacrament to the Tabernacle, placed the Blessed Sacrament in the Monstrance, and began a time of adoration. About 30 people showed up for an afternoon of adoration and reparation. There were maybe 100 to 150 people for an afternoon First Friday Mass and Benediction.

Still the dominant feeling was sadness. Oh yes, the closing processional this morning was a Beatles tune on a boombox. How low we have sunk: This is in a parish with a full time professional musician. The Tantum Ergo this afternoon was surreal.

Yup. I am pretty angry. There has not been a single person who supports me in my objection to this crap.

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It's too bad about lack of support from the parish, etc. But rest assured you have support here, albeit 2000+ miles away.

You're doing everything right. It's unfortunate that it's unappreciated by those you are doing it for. Been there, done that, as a musician in several parishes, just lucky enough to find solace at my current parish.

Keep the faith.

Dear Fr. Jeff,

As a member of your parish, I too share your frustration. Unfortunately today, reverence and devotion to our Lord has been severely diminished due to our culture's attitude towards relativism rather than devotion and truth.

This will take time, but I have faith that you will lead the way. You have my support. I will continually keep the St. Edward community in my prayers.


Well, you've got my support from afar. And remember all the good you've done in the short time you've been pastor. I'll keep you and your parish in my prayers this weekend. And maybe the proverbial "barbell from Heaven" of country gospel music will drop on some heads.

Maybe there could be a conversation about what graduation is...My bet is the answers will be along the lines of celebrating the students' accomplishments, saying good-bye as they leave, with secondary notes of thanks to the parents and teachers. With the blast of parties and high-prices gifts as a big part of the picture.

Gratitude to God...maybe in there somewhere, but not primary.

An honest conversation about what graduation expresses could very well lead to a conclusion to have graduation outdoors rather than in the church. I'm betting that the only reason graduation is in the church is that the parish hall isn't big enough, but St. Edward has the space to do it out of doors.

What percent of the parish school students are from families active in the parish or active in neighboring Catholic parishes?

I'm suggesting that Mass for those who wish separate from the graduation is a model to consider, with attendance optional.

All the eighth grade "graduations" or "advancements" I've attended recently have struck me as over the top, which tells me I'm out of touch with the kids.

Sigh. I got canned from my last R.C. music director job because I objected (quite respectfully) to a boom box blasting some hideous rock ballad about angels (and not so veiled references to drug use) at a parish funeral. The pastor there was furious that I would dare question him about this.

I agree with the idea of a separate, optional baccalaureate Mass, scheduled on or near the day of a separate outdoor graduation. In the meantime, I sigh with you. I guess if you pull the "I'm the pastor and what I say goes" card too often, you lose the ability to lead at times when it matters the most. As painful as this is, my guess is that you've got bigger fish to fry...

Dear Jeff,
I believe your convictions and positions about this intra-parish dynamic disconnect are absolutely correct.
Now that I've had a year as full-time DM/Lit down here in Visalia and have become thoroughly involved with all parish "agencies," most notably the school, I can state that things work much better if a pastor who has both scruples and "know-how" about what adjunct activities are to be attached to liturgies also has a right hand person who has the authority to ensure that teachers, parents, RCIA, RE personnel et al are re-educated and guided with a firm hand back towards the center and dignity of the rites. Often these folks just don't think beyond "that's the way we've always done it!" To which the only charitable answer is "I can appreciate that; now, let's move on to what we can do appropriately."
Down here, things aren't perfect, but the clerical and liturgical staff are completely unified and there are no balloons or boomboxes; sure I've had to teach a handful of Carey Landry ditties to the K and 1st graders for their prayer services; but I've also taught Latin texts starting at the 2nd grade not just for orthopractical reasons, but for cross-curricula reasons: how our language and traditions evolved and are enrichened because of our heritages.
Unlike my bud Brian, I'm not 3000 miles away, I'm only 3 hours away. Should you ever want a lay person to address your staff and volunteers about propriety and re-focusing their attention upon the simple dignity of worship, especially at Eucharist, you know where to find me.
You're a great pastor, Jeff.

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This page contains a single entry by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. published on June 2, 2006 9:40 PM.

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