Well, I do miss going to Mass and I do not at this point appear to be highly motivated to attend services at any of the Anglican churches. So last Sunday, after a bit of research, I attended 9:00 Mass at St. Augustine's parish in the Kitsilano area of Vancouver. I chose this church because the pastor has been married and has children and grandchildren. The autobiographical sketch posted by this priest on the parish website reflects a warm, open-hearted character. I thought that perhaps a parish run by such a man might be a little more realistic, a little more inclusive, a little less doctrinaire than the norm in this archdiocese.
The church itself, built in 1931, is beautiful inside and out. There is something about older church buildings: they have an atmosphere that makes them seem more like churches than the newer creations. The congregation was more heterogeneous than that of my former parish, both in age and ethnicity. There were numerous children and young people, along with the elderly and very elderly. One woman seated a couple of pews in front of me was obviously in early- to mid-stage dementia. On one side of me was a woman from somewhere in the West Indies and on the other side a Filipino woman and her teenaged son. The caucasians in the congregation were not all white-haired.
It turned out that the pastor was the celebrant. While I was not greatly impressed with the manner in which he conducted the liturgy or with his homily - both were rather insipid - it was quite clear that the laity play a large role in the celebration of the Mass at this church. There was also an intangible sense of the warm connection between this priest and the parishioners of St. Augustine's.
This connection was made very clear at the end of the Mass when the priest asked everyone to be seated and a man came up to the front of the church and began to read, with great emotion at times - what turned out to be a farewell speech to the pastor. After four years at St. Augustine, and only one year as pastor, he had been reassigned, and this was his last Sunday Mass.
Still, I think I will continue to attend Mass at this church. Here is what the home page of St. Augustine's website says:
As an Oblate parish, we are really a family, imbued with the charisma of the Founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, St. Eugene de Mazenod. Consequently, the parish has and does reach out in mission “at home and abroad”, as far away as Peru and Africa. Youth has always been a focus, as are the elderly, the sick and shut-ins, the poor and the marginal in Vancouver. The community supports the arts and is ecologically conscious. We do liturgy well and are known for our music, we are generous and hospitable. As you browse about the Site, we hope you might be inspired to come and visit us, if not simply to visit, you may attend one of our two daily masses, or come to one of four on the weekend. We have a staff of 7 and numerous wonderful volunteers that keep the parish running and active.
While I do not quite qualify as "elderly" yet, perhaps I could be called "marginal." At any rate, I do get a good feeling from this parish, so I think I will keep going for a while.
Photo from St. Augustine's parish website