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I don't know why I am posting this here but I want the opportunity to blow off some steam.  I feel as if this is idle gossip that really adds nothing to any discussion.  But, as the title states, I think I've had it with my parish.

I don't know if events in my parish are irritating me more because I am undergoing some kind of spiritual anguish.  As of right now, I can state I am still a believer but I acknowledge there are some cracks in my overall devotion to Our Lord.  It's not God's fault that I am in a serious situation and we all must suffer but there are times I stop to think, "what's the point?"  Or, perhaps, there is interconnectedness between my falling faith and the crumbling of my parish.

My family has attended this particular parish since 1992 when we came over from Russia.  In some ways, it was like the 'refugee experience' that is playing out now for many migrants leaving conflict in the Middle East.  As a Ukrainian language parish, the parishioners were very excited to welcome Roman Catholic immigrants from the former Soviet Union as such occurrences were a rarity.  As such, the church aided my parents find a suitable Catholic school for my brother and I, welcomed into homes for dinners, provided donations such as clothes, toys and food.  The congregation ensured that we did not feel alone and helped us to assimilate.  My brother and I made our sacraments and attended catechism classes there.  In many ways, I feel indebted to this particular parish.

My mother is the spiritual rock of our family.  She is a big supporter of the TLM and although, the mass is in Ukrainian, she was pleased with this particular parish.  For this reason, we stayed.  What made the difference was the parish priest.  During this time and up until his death 8 years ago, Father T kept church life traditional and ensured the parish was a place of deep respect.  He was an extremely holy man whose devotion not only to the Holy Trinity but also Our Lady was evident.  Father T ran an extremely tight ship and everyone understood that Mass was a time to listen, worship and contemplate.  If you went to him with spiritual concerns, you felt as though he honestly and deeply thought about his answers.  He came across as extremely knowledgeable, caring but equally fair.

After the death of Father T, Father G became our new parish priest.  While he is not a "bad priest", he has a much different style than Father T.  Father G prefers a more folksy style to religious worship and a philosophy of 'why can't we all just get along?'  For a long time, this has been quite endearing to the congregation and he was accepted right away.  But with his easy going nature, the congregation has developed a more relaxed nature that has permitted the develop of gossip, power struggles to be top in lay positions and more buddy-buddy relations with the priest than his role of spiritual director.

I decided to simplify what is really bothering me in a list.

1) He openly mixes politics with sermons or the atmosphere of the church.  I am not talking about matters that are directly tied to Catholic teaching, such as euthanasia, abortion or gay marriage, but secular matters that don’t really belong.  For instance, as this is a Ukrainian language church and filled with a lot of Ukrainians, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is a special intention.  Our parish had a fundraiser for civilians caught up in the conflict.  I had no issue with that as you know we ought to follow Matthew 25:31-46.  However, Father G used the occasion to speak badly not only of the Russian government but the people as well.  For any Canadians reading, you know how ‘Newfie jokes’ are a thing?  Well, Father G told Russian jokes along those lines.  I really didn’t know what to say at the time but I surely felt as if such nationalist vitriol didn’t belong.

2) Father G is big into the local theater community and is involved in the production of plays.  Generally, that is not a problem as hey, priests are people too with their own activities and interests.  However, it crosses a line when ‘performance art’ transforms into ‘performance Gospel’.  Especially on the most solemn day of the liturgical calendar: Good Friday!  I mean, there were not props or anything, but rather acting using voices and arm movements (flailing?) as if someone was reading for an audition.  Is this blasphemy or am I just being too overly sensitive?

3) He doesn’t give his own homilies all the time.  So, who gets to say them?  Some man dressed in African clothing that I don’t think is even a Catholic.  He has the title of “Deacon” so that could mean he is some kind of Protestant but which kind?  He gives sermons like they are from the South of the USA.  He's from out of town (the USA) so this isn't a too regular occurrence.  I remember when Father G first introduced him.  He told us he met the “Deacon” at some kind of conference and he really liked his style so he invited him to come give a sermon.  This was not a one off thing but rather it happens every few months or so.  It is a very strange mix as we’ll have Mass in Ukrainian and then this man in African garb with a Southern accent gives life lessons.  Canon Law states that only a priest or deacon can give a homily so is this title of “Deacon” bestowed upon this man so he can preach? 

4) Just small things like I don’t feel like he is listening to me when I confess.  I understand that hearing confessions must get redundant but there are times where I feel like I could get better spiritual direction from a tree.  "What did you say?" "uh huh" "oooh" "well, that's too bad" "say this and this and that..."

I am not saying that Father G is a bad priest.  I just do not feel that same ‘devotion’ or seriousness that Father T had.  Under his guidance, this parish that I used to know has developed into something else and not for the better.  There are times where cliquish behavior and the priest’s social life is more important than righting the wrongs that are easily perceptible in this particular parish.

So where do I go from here?  Many Novus Ordo churches are closing in the area due to the lack of parishioners and therefore funding.  There are no TLM, as my mother would prefer, in the area.  If we drive further, there are Greek and Ukrainian Orthodox options.  Due to my father’s Orthodox roots, he is swaying to this direction.  My brother stopped going to Mass or caring for religion a long time ago so I'm hanging on to this part of my family life by a string.  I feel really badly about all of this.  You see, there are people that stop going to Mass because they say the church doesn’t “suit them” and want to be in a place of worship that props up their decisions and makes them feel good.  However, I feel as though my current parish is doing nothing to help my spiritual life.  On the other hand, I feel really wrong inside about leaving.

I'm scared that one morning I will just decide to stop attending Mass completely.  But what do I know?  I'm just some dumb single woman with a social sciences degree that hasn't birthed new Catholics.  I'm obviously the problem here.  ???
Oh boy, where do I begin? I could number several reasons why I've had enough with all possible parishes I have ever been to, and I'll only trust a good Mass once I'm the one celebrating it. Although I'm even considering giving a try to orthodoxy now, even though I'm not really going to convert to them, I do believe that when all parishes around you are heterodox and some even purely heretical, it is not harmful if we attend orthodox Masses.
By all means, find a TLM or move closer to one if you can. Make the necessary sacrifices to get going in that direction.

If you can't get to one, don't stop receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist weekly, Who is the Source of your happiness and life.  Without receiving Him, your trouble would no longer be feeling annoyed with the guitar at Mass or an uninspiring homily, etc., but you would seriously end up completely miserable every day and at every moment.
Thanks for the replies.  One option may be to remove myself from church functions (volunteer work so to say) and simply attend Mass until a better option is found.  As of tomorrow, that will be my plan even though I know the busybodies will ask questions.  I should be able to contain my distaste for a lot of problems this way.  That is, until the Gospel becomes a play again or the "Deacon" returns.
I'm confused.  Where are there enough Roman-rite Ukrainians for there to be a Ukrainian-language parish?
There are communities of Ukrainian immigrants and second/third generation from the refugees that came over from the 1920s and on in different parts of Canada.  For instance, those or their family originally from Lviv Oblast, Zakarpattia Oblast, or Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast have sizable  Roman-rite populations.  Especially in families that may have Polish roots but due to geography spoke Ukrainian at home.  Those that want to get technical would call these people Galicians.  There is a sizable Ukrainian population here in Northern Ontario and a lot have their roots in the western part of Ukraine, or Poland, and the Roman rite.  As I previously stated, my mother is originally from Belarus where there are over 1 million adherents to the Roman rite and many people really have no idea about that either.  They think it's all Byzantine or Orthodoxy.  Just a lot less immigrants to form a community.
1. The "Deacon" might be, perhaps, an actual Catholic deacon - that is to say, a permanent deacon, as opposed to a transitional deacon. If this is indeed the case, it is permissible under Church law for a deacon, permanent or transitional, to delivery a homily. It does not happen often (nor is it supposed to happen too often), but it is increasingly the case in the U.S., where the permanent diaconate has seen more growth (and priests are in shortage) and embraced by bishops than anywhere else in the world.

If the gentleman in question is NOT a Catholic deacon, then your parish has a problem. It is not permissible under Church law for a layperson to give a homily, let alone a non-Catholic. See Redemptionis Sacramentum 64: "The homily, which is given in the course of the celebration of Holy Mass and is a part of the Liturgy itself, “should ordinarily be given by the Priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating Priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to a Deacon, but never to a layperson." See also Missale Romanum, Institutio Generalis, n. 66; cf. also the Code of Canon Law, can. 6, §1, 2; also can. 767 §1. If this is indeed the case, you have grounds to articulate your concerns, first to the pastor, then to your bishop, respectfully.

2. On your larger concern, you may be in a tough spot. I confess that I would not be any more comfortable than you are with what you have described. The extreme solution is to move to a place where there are one or more good pastoral options. That is not always easy or possible to do, however. It is a pity there is not a good UGC rite or traditional Roman Rite parish in your vicinity (though I know you have better odds of the former than the latter in Canada). In the alternative you could find some like-minded Catholics in the area and petition the bishop for provision of a TLM in our community, though given what I know of the Prairie Province bishops, I wouldn't be sanguine about getting any results, or at least not without a great deal of work, time and resistance.
Is this parish Roman Catholic or Ukrainian Greek Catholic?
(04-10-2016, 11:07 AM)Athelstane Wrote: [ -> ]1. The "Deacon" might be, perhaps, an actual Catholic deacon - that is to say, a permanent deacon, as opposed to a transitional deacon. If this is indeed the case, it is permissible under Church law for a deacon, permanent or transitional, to delivery a homily. It does not happen often (nor is it supposed to happen too often), but it is increasingly the case in the U.S., where the permanent diaconate has seen more growth (and priests are in shortage) and embraced by bishops than anywhere else in the world.

If the gentleman in question is NOT a Catholic deacon, then your parish has a problem. It is not permissible under Church law for a layperson to give a homily, let alone a non-Catholic. See Redemptionis Sacramentum 64: "The homily, which is given in the course of the celebration of Holy Mass and is a part of the Liturgy itself, “should ordinarily be given by the Priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating Priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to a Deacon, but never to a layperson." See also Missale Romanum, Institutio Generalis, n. 66; cf. also the Code of Canon Law, can. 6, §1, 2; also can. 767 §1. If this is indeed the case, you have grounds to articulate your concerns, first to the pastor, then to your bishop, respectfully.

Hi Athelstane, thanks for your informative and detailed answer.  I hope that you could help me with the next step of my question.  Is it permissible for a deacon to wear a dashiki and kufi (I think that is what they are called but if not, they are exactly like that in African dress) instead of a dalmatic when celebrating Mass?  This attire is what made me think the "Deacon" is not Catholic.  In the case he can wear such attire, I am obviously wrong here.

And hi demoslider.  Yes, it's Roman Catholic not Ukrainian Greek Catholic.  Yes, it's true the majority of Ukrainians belong to the UGC but there are many RC's in the country and diaspora as well.  For instance, the Dominicans are actively trying to build up their presence again as well.  So, don't be so surprised there are Ukrainian language RC parishes even if they are small.
If you're an Easterner I suggest you buy an nice eastern Prayerbook and Horologion like the Old Orthodox Prayerbook and Old Rite Horologion and pray as much of the hours that you can. Only go to the parish for Divine Liturgy, but foster some sort of interior life according to the liturgical year. The Eastern Liturgical year has more saints commemorated daily than you know what to do with really, and there are tons of resources to help you get immersed in their stories.

I suggest this because it works for me. Modern Ecclesial life is pretty shallow in most places so look inward. There's plenty of resources.
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