The term “family Mass” probably conjures up all sorts of memories or ideas for people. I’m sure not all of these memories or ideas are positive ones either. Having been in ministry for as many years as I have, I’ve seen and participated in many Masses in the past that I would never consider appropriate now. But in the 70’s things happened. Fast forward and try to get rid of your thoughts, especially the ones against special Masses, and hear me out. Family Mass can be a good thing. Of course, Mass is always good and Mass should never be celebrated for one group to exclude another,
For many years in the parish where I currently work, families were not welcome. At all. There was one altar server. First penance was not celebrated; the confessions were heard in the hallway during class on a Sunday morning. Our goal in having a Family Mass was to invite families to return to their faith home. Once a month, at our regularly scheduled 9:00 a.m. Sunday Mass, we have children serve as lectors and ushers. At homily time, the children are called forward and sit on the steps in front of the altar; listening and responding to a homily just for them. A few of the children bring up the offertory gifts. Our children’s choir sings as usual. What are the benefits to doing this? Families come to Mass together, the children participate in serving the parish, and the parish is seen as caring for families. Another important point to note, no one has complained. I have instituted many programs at many parishes and never once have I received no complaints. Older adults, who are the majority of our parishioners, are thrilled to see the children and especially enjoy their participation. Some even comment that they prefer the homilies given for the children since they understand them better.
A family Mass may not work in your parish, but in ours it has been a positive addition. We hope that continued participation in this Mass will help families see the value and necessity of attending every week.