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Late Mass Offered to Meet Needs of Medical Workers

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by John Stegeman

Stephen Janssen was in a rough spot for a practicing Catholic. Janssen is a nurse who works weekends. Like many other nurses, his shift runs from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., making it nearly impossible to fulfill his weekly obligation to attend Mass. Impossible, that is, until Monsignor Frank Lane and St. Cecilia Parish instituted an 8:15 p.m. Sunday Mass.

Janssen isn’t alone in the archdiocese, and in particular at St. Cecilia. The parish has a high number of medical professionals who, when working weekends, find themselves unable to get to Mass.

Monsignor Lane, a retired priest who assists at St. Cecilia, was among those who noticed the problem and proposed a solution. He saw that regular Mass goers would sometimes be absent, and in talking with them found out medical work schedules kept them away. He talked it over with St. Cecilia Pastor Father Jamie Weber and offered to help. Now he celebrates the Mass each week.

Since starting the Mass in early October, Monsignor Lane said attendance has hovered between 70-90 people. The Mass was instituted with medical workers in mind, but all are welcome.

“The idea was not to provide a convenience Mass, but to provide a Mass for people who couldn’t go at any other time,” Monsignor Lane said.

“This is a very specific thing for a very specific place. We have a lot of young healthcare workers like medical students, young doctors, nurses, like that who come to St. Cecilia.”

Father Weber said it wasn’t an easy decision to add the Mass. Priests are already stretched thin on Sundays. In the end though, he agreed there was a need for it.

“If there was already a Mass that had been created, I would’ve been one to advertise it and let others know,” he said. “Monsignor Lane really had a great desire to do this Mass and because he’s so robust even at 80 years old, I knew it could be sustained.”

Janssen is among those elated to attend the 8:15 p.m. Mass.

I would go on Monday morning and kind of count that as my Sunday even though that’s not really how it works,” he said. “It was really hard on my wife when I couldn’t go with her. It was hard on me, too, not being able to go to Sunday Mass with my wife… We were jumping for joy when we heard from our friends that St. Cecilia was going to start this up.”

Janssen said the clientele at the 8:15 p.m. Mass is mostly younger. Many people are still wearing scrubs from their 12-hour work day. It is a simple Mass, reverent, but without music.

For people like Janssen who work every weekend, the Mass is a godsend, but it also benefits healthcare workers who work weekends on a rotation.

“This is a golden opportunity for them to attend Sunday Mass without either driving a long distance or going to a Mass at 10 p.m.,” Janssen said. “The Mass is definitely hitting the crowd that it was designed for.”

Historically, local churches have been willing to be flexible with Mass times to accommodate work schedules. St. Louis Church in downtown Cincinnati held Masses at 12:30 and 2 a.m. Sunday morning in the 1930s to benefit various professions.

A variety of parishes in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati offer later Mass times on Sunday, but most start between 6 and 7:30 p.m.

Besides St. Cecilia, other Masses beginning later than 7:30 are found associated with campus ministries. Bellarmine Chapel at Xavier University offers a 10 p.m. Mass when school
is in session. University of Dayton’s Immaculate Conception Chapel likewise offers an 8:30 p.m. Mass during the term. St. Mary’s in Oxford, near the University of Miami, also offers an 8:30 p.m. Mass.

Otherwise Mass opportunities range in the traditional Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning time slots. For a complete list of Mass times throughout the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, visit thecatholictelegraph.com/mass-times.

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