Altar girls, again: what happened when a SF parish banned girl altar servers—UPDATED

It must have been a slow news day in San Francisco, since it appears this led the local news last night: A Bay Area church is now under fire over a controversial new policy saying only boys can be altar servers. The new practice is making waves at the century old church Star of the Sea. Since [Read More...]

After the fire: “We are blessed with good, good people”

Father Edward Smith celebrates Mass in Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Academy auditorium in a makeshift worship space Jan. 11. (Photo: Marie Elena Giossi / The Tablet) Several days ago, I posted on this devastating fire that hit a church in my diocese. Now a followup, giving witness to the resilience and faith of this remarkable parish. [Read More...]

Hello, Neumann!

Today marks the feast of St. John Neumann, and a deacon friend reminded me of a visit I made last winter to Ohio and one of the churches where Neumann served. It’s St. Alphonsus in Peru, OH. I was there on a bitterly cold March evening to give a talk to deacons from Toledo. We [Read More...]

Fire tears through Queens church before Little Christmas: “I’m in shock”—UPDATED

Shrine at Our Lady of Sorrows (from parish website) From the In My Backyard Desk, via The New York Post:  Flames tore through a Catholic church in Queens early Sunday, stunning parishioners who showed up for Mass only to find their house of worship on fire. Firefighters got the call at 5:45 a.m. and rushed to [Read More...]

For sale: Europe’s empty churches

Arnhem Skate Hall, formerly the Church of St. Joseph (photo: Facebook) From the Wall Street Journal:  Two dozen scruffy skateboarders launched perilous jumps in a soaring old church building here on a recent night, watched over by a mosaic likeness of Jesus and a solemn array of stone saints. This is the Arnhem Skate Hall, [Read More...]

Homecoming: visiting my childhood parish

Over the Christmas break, I was able to attend Mass at my childhood parish, St. Patrick’s in Rockville, Maryland. My parents helped build the place back in the mid-1960s, and it was there that I first donned a cassock and surplice and served as an altar boy some 45 years ago.  The church was, and [Read More...]

“Hate crime”: Baby Jesus stolen from church nativity scene, replaced with pig’s head—UPDATED

From  A baby Jesus statue at a Haverhill church’s nativity scene was taken and replaced with a “freshly decapitated” pig’s head on Christmas morning, police said. John Delaney, the pastor of Sacred Hearts Roman Catholic Church, said he had a mix of “shock” and “horror” upon seeing the bloody head on Thursday morning just [Read More...]

Christmas in Forest Hills

Shortly before Midnight Mass—which actually took place at midnight!— from my parish, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Forest Hills, NY. The liturgy was breathtaking: 40 altar servers, five priests, one deacon, full choir, a trumpet, and an eloquent homiletic meditation on “O Holy Night” by our pastor, Bishop Paul Sanchez—who reflected on the phrase [Read More...]

Window pains: stained glass industry disappearing

From The Wall Street Journal: After a couple of millennia of sustained popularity, the stained-glass industry is showing serious cracks. Declining church attendance is playing a role, as is the growth of nondenominational congregations like Wave that pine for a more modern aesthetic. Even churches that want stained glass are increasingly evaluating whether it fits [Read More...]

Building a never-ending church: a new film about Sagrada Familia

A new documentary has just been released that tells the story of this remarkable undertaking in Barcelona.  At the church’s dedication in 2010, Pope Benedict noted:  The joy which I feel at presiding at this ceremony became all the greater when I learned that this shrine, since its beginnings, has had a special relationship with [Read More...]