After speaking with the Pastoral Council and parish staff, I have decided to make some changes to the sacramental schedule during the summer months of June, July and August.
I am aware that change always requires us to sacrifice. It forces us to change our routines, and that is not always easy or pleasant to do. However, all in all, I believe that a summer schedule is necessary for several reasons.
- A summer schedule offers our priests an opportunity to rest. From September to May, St. Anne offers the most number of daily and weekend masses and confession hours of any parish in the entire Diocese of Phoenix.
- A summer schedule allows our priests to be away from the parish either for personal vacation time or for parish or ministry activities that require the presence of a priest. A good example would be the upcoming World Youth Day in Poland in which our parish will be participating with a group of approximately 70 young people and one of our priests. Please keep in mind that the current mass and confession schedule requires the presence of 3 priests in the parish. It is simply not possible to maintain the same schedule when one of the priests will be absent for an extended period of time.
- A summer schedule permits the priests to participate in various ministry and educational activities that they are unable to join in during the rest of the year due to the demanding sacramental schedule at St. Anne.
- A summer schedule also offers the priests, parish staff and lay volunteers a good opportunity to prepare for the next pastoral year, allowing more time for collaborative work and preparation of activities.
I apologize that summertime schedule changes can be difficult for some of our parishioners, but allow me share a story with you. Every year I receive a series of letters written by the same person with complaints about the summer schedule changes. In these letters I am told that there is no “summer schedule” in American parishes. Included with the letters are other parish bulletins so that I may see what is done in other communities. The letters express complaints that during the summer “his/her” mass has been removed from the summer schedule. I must say that this criticism seems unfair for two reasons.
Firstly, as previously mentioned, other parishes maintain the same schedule year round because for the entire yearly schedule they have fewer masses and confessions than we do at St. Anne. In most parishes, for example, there is a single daily mass. We have 3 daily masses- sometimes 5 if we have a wedding or a funeral – on the same day. If other parishes were to reduce their schedule during the summer, it would mean taking away the only daily mass they have!
The same is true for confessions. We offer 30 hours of confession every week – and more during Advent and Lent. In many parishes the confession schedule is a couple of hours a week. How would it be possible to reduce their confession schedule in the summer? In reality it would mean canceling confessions altogether.
Secondly, our summer schedule is busier than most of the other parishes’ schedules throughout the year. Our summer schedule continues to offer more hours of confessions and at least as many masses as other parishes offer on a regular basis. As I see it, instead of complaining about the changes in the summer schedule – which are necessary although they may be unpleasant- we should express our gratitude to Fr. David and Fr. Dan for giving us, for so many months of the year, their generous availability in hearing so many confessions and celebrating so many masses.
I know that the vast majority of you understand and support the reasons I have shared with you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your understanding and cooperation.
May God bless you all.
Long live Christ the King!