Mass in the Mall? St. Francis Chapel

Where did you go to Mass today?

Me? I went in a shopping mall!

To be precise, we attended the 11:45 am Mass at the wonderful St. Francis Chapel in Boston’s Prudential Center. The Chapel, staffed by the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, is a refuge in the midst of a busy place. We sought the chapel out, since our hotel/home for the next two weeks is within easy walking distance.

But while we sat waiting for Mass to begin, I wondered how many who were nestled into the warm little chapel had wandered in during the midst of a busy shopping day, or were doing business at the nearby convention center or on a lunch break from their shift in the shopping mall. While Mass in the mall may sound a bit odd, isn’t this really the New Evangelization at its finest — finding people right where they are and bringing the Word to them?

Our homilist for the day, presider Fr. Shawn Monahan, OMV, is exactly the type of priest you’d want to see preaching in a mission oriented setting like St. Francis Chapel. Warm, engaging, a terrific speaker with a bright sense of both humor and a keen knowledge of the gospels, Fr. Shawn found a way to tie today’s Gospel passage from Matthew 3 and the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord into a life lesson that was truly relevant for every person worshipping in the chapel. (Click here to listen to that homily). I was happy to learn that Fr. Shawn’s homilies are featured on the free Catholic Homilies app along with other terrific priests such as Fr. Roger  J. Landry and Fr. Larry Richards.

Photo Credit: Cardinal Sean’s blog –

An interesting thing happened before Mass in the mall began. We sat in the pew — Eric (our son, a senior at Harvard this year), Greg (my husband, whose two week fellowship with the Harvard School of Public Health is the reason for our visit) and me (the wife and mom, always also wearing her blogger hat). A very sweet Sister approached us and invited Eric to help with usher duties by taking up the collection. He was happy to help — I think he was actually sort of tickled to be asked and to receive the two minute basket pushing lesson from the adorable Sister. I thought to myself about our suburban parish where our ushers, all trained volunteers, report for “duty” in their matching navy blazers and professional nametags, doubling as greeters for our huge congregation. How blessed our parish is to have so many volunteers! And yet, what a blessing it was to Eric to play a small role at Mass today, simply because the Chapel needed him. I wondered how many before Eric might have pushed that same basket, perhaps after having just wandered into the chapel in the mall on a whim.

Every type of parish setting is a beautiful member of the Body of Christ. I’m going to look forward during the next two weeks to discovering some new ones, but I’m sure before I head home I’ll be seeking out at least a few more Masses in the mall!

A question for you: Where did you attend Mass this weekend? 


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  • Jose_Galvan

    I attended my home town parish of Our Lady of Grace in West Sacramento! This article is great because it reminds me of the time I went to a chapel service at Sonoma raceway. Yes, at the race track! Great post. I would love it if my local mall had a chapel!

  • E. George

    I love St Francis Chapel. When in Boston for a convention I attend daily mass there or the at nearby St Clement’s Eucharistic Shrine. St Francis also has priests available 6 hours per day for confessions on weekdays. Amazing.

  • Nicholas Haggin

    In the early 90s, when traveling with my dad to Boston on business, we went to Mass at St. Francis Chapel. I maintained such a fond memory of the experience that, when I was staying at the nearby Sheraton for a conference in 2011, I knew exactly where I was going to Mass on Dec 8. It’s a lovely little place.

  • $23022903

    To me (with no knowledge of such things) that sounds like an expensive place to put a church and would like to know what they’re selling.. Which leads me to wonder how to sales would work if a protestant chapel launched around the isle.

    Must say that is a very classy looking place.