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English Mass: Creating a Community
In the Catholic church we say that the mass is like the summit, in that things come to the mass and things go from the mass. The mass is like us funneling... and comes from the word “to send.” – Father Denny, former priest of St. Dominic's
On Sunday morning, as the congregation enters the church doors, they walk into a pensive, peaceful atmosphere. Even newcomers feel welcome with the occasional friendly smile and brief greeting. They slowly integrate themselves into the mass, and as such, become part of the larger community.
As one parishioner explained in an interview: “The core, heart reason of why I am a Catholic is because of the Mass.”
Mass fosters community at St. Dominic’s. Every Sunday, parishioners make their way to the same pews, creating their own Sunday ritual. Such routine allows congregants to build meaningful relationships as they shake hands (greeting and sharing a sign of peace) with the same neighbors each week. As congregants take part in the mass, whether playing music, participating in the choir, or serving as an usher, they share a common purpose, working together to make mass meaningful for the whole community.
Taking Part in the Community: Alison's Story
Alison, a sophomore from St. Olaf who grew up in Eagan, focuses on this sense of community she describes her faith and participation at St. Dominic’s.
Alison was raised Catholic and attended church in Eagan, where she sat in the front pew with her family every Sunday until attending college in Northfield. After starting at St. Olaf, Alison began attending weekly mass at St. Dominic’s. At first she felt no connection to St. Dominic’s: the first time she came to mass she sat by herself “in a crowd of strangers”. She continued to come, however, and after sitting in the same pew and the same seat, she began to confide in the people around her and made friends with other congregants. Alison describes her faith as a learning process; she is learning how to interact with others. Alison no longer believes that faith is impersonal, it is as much a relationship with God as it is with fellow parishioners. She describes the church as a support system. St. Dominic’s has become home, and she now recognizes St. Dominic’s hymns more than those at her home parish in Eagan. One of Alison’s favorite moments at St. Dominic’s was when she went to bilingual mass during holy week. Alison was touched when she realized that the Spanish speaking community was saying the same prayers and believed in the same God that she did.1
Interview with Alison, Faith Formation Group, May 16, 2012.↩