Most of us know that there are times in life when it becomes necessary to prune a bit in order to grow. After a lot of prayer and consideration, it has become apparent that it is time to take a look at the Mass times that are offered in our parishes.

Since at least 1996, Our Lady of Lourdes has offered an evening Saturday Mass and four Sunday Masses: three in English and one in Spanish. At that time, there were nearly 1600 Catholics in attendance each weekend at OLOL. At present, not counting the effects of Covid, the average number of Sunday Mass-goers has decreased by more than half, and as we know, the number of priests during that time has also declined significantly.

These lower numbers in the congregation have also diluted in many ways the experience of worship, as there are fewer people in the pews to sing and make the responses at Mass. Our Sunday worship is at its best when we worship together as much as possible; the more our parish is spread thin among a multitude of Masses, the less we perceive our parish family as a vibrant community, culminating in and unified by our worship together.

For the above reasons, after consultation with the pastoral councils of both parishes, we have decided to reduce the Mass offerings at both Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Thomas the Apostle by one Mass each. Effective beginning the weekend of August 14-15, at Our Lady of Lourdes, we will discontinue the 1 pm Spanish Mass. The 11:30 Mass will then become the Spanish Mass, and the 11:30 English Mass will be discontinued. The Mass schedule at St. Thomas will be reduced to Sunday at 10 am only.

The daily Mass calendar will remain the same at Our Lady of Lourdes (6:30 am M-F, except the 2 pm school Mass on Thursdays during the school year). The 8:30 am daily Masses at St. Thomas will be discontinued, but in their place, we will be offering Mass Monday through Thursday at 5:15 pm at St. Thomas. Our hope is to accommodate working people and young families in a way that they are not being served currently in the Decatur Catholic community.

Allow me to say that this is not a statement on the viability of either parish! But we must acknowledge the changing needs of the community in which we live, and I believe this will be the best way to continue moving forward with the Holy Spirit.

I would strongly urge those who are adversely affected by these changes to pray about which Mass you are able to attend going forward. We still very much value and desire your presence here in our community, and I hope that you are able to find a home here still at Our Lady of Lourdes.

Finally, I would just say that these decisions were not made lightly, and I know there will be some disappointment in the decisions made. While the pruning process can be uncomfortable for all involved, we are confident that the Lord will continue to grow us together in His vineyard. Please pray for us, and rest assured, we will continue to pray for you during this time of transition.

Keep spreading joy!

Fr. Friedel

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