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Spiritual pit stops for holiday drivers

NCR Staff

You live in California. The darn kid decided to go to college on the East Coast. And now, for Christmas, he wants you to celebrate out there with him. Prime reason -- he wants his car as his Christmas present.

So you and the spouse say, “Fine, just this once we’ll drive out.” And fly back.

But what about Sunday Mass? Well, depending on the final destination, and where you are on Sundays, here’s some possibilities sent in by NCR’s welcoming and visitor-friendly liturgy boosters.

You depart San Francisco (why would anyone want to?) and hit Livermore, Calif., and St. Charles Borromeo -- “not a place where, but a people who.” They have the welcome mat out at 1315 Lomitas Ave. Visit their Web site at www.stcharlesborromeo.org/main/St_Chucks.html

On to Las Vegas. (Risk a sin and try to win the kid’s annual tuition on the slots?) By all means, try the liturgy at Guardian Angel Cathedral (tourist Mass, Saturday at 2:3O p.m., plus 4 and 5:15 p.m., with Sunday 8, 9:30 and 11 a.m. and 12:30 and 5 p.m. (Confessions a half-hour before Mass in case you gambled away the kid’s senior year.)

The cathedral is within walking distance of most hotels, as is the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer (Saturday Masses at 4 and 5:30 p.m; Sunday at 8 and 10 a.m. and 12 noon.)

From Las Vegas, jog the car south to Boulder City, Nev., writes Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Juliette Parlow, and attend St. Andrew’s (Saturday Masses at 5 p.m., Sunday at 8 and 10:30 a.m.), “where weekend liturgies leave big impressions. Friendly greeters at the church door, good music, meditative silences, inspiring, challenging homilies from Fr. Joe Annese.” Plus coffee and doughnuts.

It’s a fair haul northeast from there to Rye, Colo., and St. Aloysius Church on Highway 165, but Sister of Providence Margaret Ringe of College Park, Md., says, “My family and I were impressed” by the welcome from the parishioners chatting outside the church door before Mass, and by the “powerful” homily from the “soft-spoken” priest.

Onward to Milwaukee. Maureen and Eric Tank recommend Corpus Christi on Villard Avenue, “struggling with a serious financial challenge,” attracting young families, large numbers of catechumenate candidates, teens and adults flocking in “and upbeat music with tremendous participation. Masses Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 8 and 10 a.m.”

Milwaukee’s on a roll. Marjorie Reiley Maguire says “vacation-friendly” liturgies are to be found at St. John’s Cathedral with excellent preaching at the 8 a.m. Mass by either Archbishop Rembert Weakland or Bishop Richard Sklba. (There’s a host of summer festival Masses, too. We’ll save those till NCR’s spring list.)

Oh boy, Illinois. Two stops: St. Anthony’s in Bartonville and Resurrection much further south, in Wayne. St. Anthony’s, writes an admirer, is a “true blessing. Homilies outstanding. Fr. Tom Kelly, Sr. Eleanor Hoffman, creative, humble, gifted, and the church bulletin says it all: ‘O God, make the door of our church wide enough to receive all who need human love and companionship.’ “ It’s located at 2525 Skyway Road; phone (309) 697-0647.

Resurrection Catholic Community in Wayne “is a special place. Visitors tell us we are alive, meaningful, joyful, happy, celebrating in all that we do,” writes Barbara Miller. Outdoor liturgies twice monthly during the summer, but as this is winter, think of Saturday at 5:30 p.m., Sunday at 7, 9, 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Franciscan Fr. Laurian Janicki and the community don’t want you to rush in and rush out. “We take our time for rites, sacraments. Nothing is accomplished in haste.”

And if you’re dawdling on the way east, go down to Jefferson City, Mo., to St. Peter’s, recommends Pierre Jorgensen, where there’s not only a welcome but a beautifully restored church now on the historic register.

Up north now to Brownsburg, Ind., which offers Mass in the Episcopal Church. It’s good old Catholic St. Bridget’s, of course, closed by the diocese but celebrating in St. Philip’s Episcopal at 720 Martin Luther King Drive at 8 a.m. Sundays. Phone: (317) 767-4005.

More northward yet: Sacred Heart Church, Detroit, near I-75 South, just off the Mack Avenue, exit at 1000 Eliot (think T.S. Eliot) at Rivard. “Don’t arrive late if you’re attending the 10:30 Mass,” writes Patti Brown. “It’s crowded” and one-and-a-half hours later still pulsating from the outstanding gospel choir and an excellent homily by Fr. Norman Thomas who has been there for two decades.

Brunch is a must with this racially and culturally diversified “very hospitable church family.” Adds Brown, “We usually notice new people, so if you slip in unnoticed, introduce yourselves. We love visitors and we’re very proud of our urban church.”

Southward. For the New Jerusalem Community in Cincinnati, an intentional community, call ahead to Carol Metz, coordinator of community life, for details: (513) 541-4748.

And more southerly still: “Let me tell you about my parish!” writes Judy Bickett, urging travelers to take the scenic route to Louisville, Ky. The 11 a.m. liturgy at St. Michael’s is “a place of lively liturgy with great warmth and hospitality. The first thing you notice is the setting, outside the city, lots of trees and cows in the pasture across the street. (At better than the halfway mark driving across the United States, you’ll be needing something bucolic.) First-time visitors, raise your hands and introduce yourselves. (If you’re going by in August, get there 45 minutes early for the “family choir.” Everyone rehearses, visitors and old-timers.)

You’ve dropped the car -- and half your wallet -- off at the kid’s college, thanked him for the tie and the oven mitts, bought him Christmas dinner, and now you need spiritual sustenance.

Rent something luxurious (what’s the kid got, a beaten up Camaro?) and drive 40 miles north to Rockport, Mass. on the ocean. A small town with the sort of New England charm celebrated in song rather than hymns, and 150-year-old friendly St. Joachim’s where Fr. Ronald Gariboldi presides at Mass Saturday at 5 p.m., Sunday at 8:30 and 10:30.

The church is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Father’s day off (Friday) there’s a 9 a.m. Communion service, writes Everett Shores.

More northerly yet? Hey, the black fly season will be over in Maine. Head for Newcastle on the Damariscotta River. “The best homily and liturgy on the rocky coast,” insists Pat Ryan, is at St. Patrick’s, the oldest Catholic church in New England.

In summer, Masses are outside under the white pines. In winter, “wise and witty and warm,” Fr. Ray Picard welcomes all Saturday at 5 p.m., Sunday at 8 and 10:30 a.m. Phone: (207) 563-3240.

You’ve not been to Florida?

Take I-95 South (God and St. Christopher help you -- this is the nastiest bit of driving outside the Pennsylvania Turnpike or the approaches to the Los Angeles airport. Washington Beltway Catholics are petitioning Rome for a special saint for gridlock, and another to make freight trucks pay taxes by the mile. St. Jude resigned both commissions.)

Swing off I-95 in Richmond to St. Augustine’s for good homilies by Fr. Michael Schmeid, or divert to Hopewell, Va. and St. James the Greater community where “Bond -- Father Bond” is “a homilist who keeps his homilies to 10 minutes, and you have to think about them.”

In Florida you’re going to end up at “a gem of a faith community,” St. Maximilian Kolbe Church on Spear Street, Port Charlotte (midway between Naples and Sarasota). Phone: (941) 743-6877. “My husband and I searched hard to find such a parish after moving to Florida,” writes Colette Corwin.

Visitors receive a special blessing at Mass.

And there you are, thinking about taking the plane home. But now you and everyone else in NCR-dom has a further challenge.

A P.S. from Louisville’s Judy Bickett: “I’ve never been to a liturgy as good as the one I have at home.”

Come on, folks, tell her where the good ones are. And Pat Ryan wants this for Christmas: “Maybe you could tell me the best liturgy in southern Manhattan. It’s hard to find.”

New Yorkers, you’re up.

Merry Massgoing.

National Catholic Reporter, December 18, 1998