Mystery Worshipper: Paterfamilias
Church: St Mary of the Knobs
Location: Floyds Knobs, Indiana, USA
Date of visit: Sunday, 21 October 2018, 10:30am
A large facility, seating over 1100, dedicated in 2012. There is a 65-foot high ceiling. This worship space is the fourth for the parish; the third is nearby and still used as a chapel. In its overall design, the building consists of two octagons: an upper asymmetrical shape superimposed over a symmetrical lower one. The two eight-sided structures represent the eighth day, Sunday, a foretaste of eternity. At the entrance to the church is a baptismal pool, allowing for baptism by immersion. The marble used for the baptismal pool, altar and ambo is identical. There is a stained glass reredos behind the altar area, and, behind that, a Blessed Sacrament chapel. The stained glass of the reredos (non-representational) is of muted olive, yellow, and brown; the representational stained glass of the chapel is of bright reds and blues. Sitting in the congregation, one sees quite a dance of colors and shapes, with the two walls superimposed over each other.
St Mary of the Knobs is the oldest parish in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, dating from 1823. There are over 1,000 families in the parish, and there is quite an array of the usual hunger and bereavement ministries, as well as faith formation and sacramental preparation. One unusual feature: Basketball is quite popular in the state of Indiana, and there are basketball leagues for young people in the parish to teach them the finer points of the game, from age three through fourth grade.
Floyds Knobs is an unincorporated part of Floyd County, on the Ohio River just across from Louisville, Kentucky. Its rather unusual name comes from Colonel Davis Floyd, a prominent resident of the area in the early 19th-century, and the rolling hills ("knobs") of southern Indiana. Originally a farming community, it is now also a bedroom community for those working in Louisville. The parish is on a campus of 92 acres, containing the church and chapel, a cemetery, two athletic fields, an elementary school, a gym, and office building.
The pastor celebrated and preached. There were five acolytes, two lectors and an intercessor, eleven eucharistic ministers, and a contemporary music ensemble of eight musicians.
What was the name of the service?Mass.
How full was the building?
About three-quarters full. Lots of families and children.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
I drove over to the church a bit early and, after parking my car, walked toward the building. The pastor was engaged in conversation with a couple of parishioners, but immediately stopped and greeted me, and said, ‘I'm the greeter.’ Noting his collar, I said that it appeared he had other duties as well. We conversed for a while; he was quite welcoming, and quite well informed about football in my home state of Michigan.
Was your pew comfortable?
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
When one enters the church, one immediately sees a sign that reads ‘Reverential Quiet, Please.’ The congregation complied with the request, although there was a brief rehearsal with the two young cantors.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
Before the service, the leader of the contemporary music group announced: ‘As promised, we're going to sing a couple of prelude songs ... Feel free to sing along.’ After the opening hymn, the pastor's first words were: ‘And first I'd like to bring the young children forward for their liturgy of the Word.’ He chatted with them a bit, asking if any of them had gotten married in the last week, or lost any teeth, or had a birthday. He then dismissed them for their instruction. Then he said ‘Good morning!’ to the congregation, mentioned the beautiful weather we were having, and finally got down to ‘In the Name of the Father ...’
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Gather, a 2011 hymnal published by GIA Publications of Chicago, and Seasonal Missalette, a publication of the World Library containing the readings for the 2018-2019 liturgical year. Both volumes include the order of mass.
What musical instruments were played?
Acoustic guitar, upright bass, and flute. All of the music was of the contemporary variety. The three musicians played quite well; several of the members of the music ensemble were in their teens.
Did anything distract you?
All of the eucharistic ministers using hand sanitizer before administering the Sacrament.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Well, it certainly got off to a happy-clappy start! After the opening prayer, though, we settled into a fairly formal liturgy, although the Gloria was omitted. One interesting feature at the preparation of the gifts: the pastor sat on the steps in front of the altar, and young people in the congregation came up to give their offerings. (The adults had their offerings collected in the usual way.)
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 — The pastor’s style and content seemed perfect for his audience, particularly with all of the young people.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The pastor asked us to raise our hands if we remembered in our youth calling out ‘Shotgun!’ before getting into a car (meaning we wanted to ride in the front seat, passenger side). This, he said, is something of what James and John were doing in the tenth chapter of Mark, when they asked Jesus to ‘Grant in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.’ Jesus replied that ‘to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give.’ Indeed, it was to be two thieves who would be given places at his right and his left. There are lots of ways in our daily lives in which we still call ‘Shotgun!’ We must remind ourselves that, like Our Lord, we are called to be servants.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
This beautiful space. ‘Beautiful’ is not always a word I use for contemporary Catholic churches; this church is indeed beautiful.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The verses of the psalm were not sung, only the refrain. Two young teenage girls read the verses in alternation. I like my psalms sung.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
No one in the congregation talked to us, but as we left the pastor handed me a bulletin with activities for the week noted. He remembered me, and said he hoped if we were in the area again we would return.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was none, although quite a few of the parishioners hung around for conversation.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 — This parish serves its community very well. I was impressed with the creative ways the community has found to involve the young of the parish in the mass.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
The ease and comfort the pastor felt with young children, especially his asking the young ones, 'Did any of you get married this week?'